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Abstinence up but 18-24s more likely to binge drink

Younger legal-drinking-age adults in the UK are more likely to drink at high-risk levels compared with the rest of the population, a survey has revealed.

Binge drinking
A UK Drinkaware survey found while abstinence among 18-24-year-olds was up, they were more likely to binge drink

The data comes from ‘The Sober Myth: Are Young Adults Really a Generation of Non-Drinkers’ survey by UK charity Drinkaware, which works to reduce harmful drinking.

The survey questioned 5,213 peopled aged from 18 to 24 years old across the UK between 2017 and 2023.

While the results show there is a rise in non-drinking among this age group, four in five young adults still drink alcohol and are more likely to binge drink or drink at high-risk/dependent levels compared with those aged over 25.

The 18-24 age group has the highest rate of non-drinking, which has risen from 14% in 2017 to 21% in 2023.

Noting this, Karen Tyrell, Drinkaware’s chief executive, said: “These positive trends are welcome, but we must be careful that they don’t mask some of the more concerning drinking behaviours that still exist.

“Young people are still more likely to binge drink than other age groups and suffer from memory loss and depression, linked to their drinking.

“We must ensure that young people’s drinking habits are not ignored and they are properly addressed as part of any new alcohol strategy. We need to normalise conversations around alcohol, making it easier for people to speak up and get help if they are worried about their own or others’ drinking.”

Regarding memory loss, young adult drinkers are more likely to experience memory loss (40% compared with 19%), morning cravings (14% versus 4%), and failure to meet their usual responsibilities (24% compared with 12%).

While young adult drinkers are more likely to drink alcohol on a night out with friends (84% versus 74%), they are less likely to drink alone at home (43% compared with 52%).

Earlier this year, SB interviewed Henry Ashworth, the CEO of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), who stressed the importance of following data when it comes to implementing responsible drinking measures.

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