Introduction‎ > ‎

Why act on alcohol misuse?

Put simply: consumption and problem drinking cause 4.6% of all ill-health and premature death.1
Over 60 diseases and other types of trauma have a causal link to alcohol use (excluded social and other population-level problems).2
Around 20% of students (in a given year) meet the criteria for problem drinking (including 8% for alcohol abuse and 13% for alcohol dependence).3

For those aged between 20 – 39 years around 25 % of total deaths are alcohol-attributable.4


The UK is among a small set of countries with one of the highest per capita consumption of alcohol (see Figure 2, WHO, 2014).  Furthermore, the UK has the highest level of heavy episodic drinking (see Figure 7) which is defined (by the WHO, 2014) as drinking 60 or more grams of pure alcohol during a single occasion on at least a monthly basis.  This equates to 7.5 units of alcohol during a single occasion.


1 Rehm J., Mathers C., Popova S., et al., (2009), “Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders,” Lancet, 373, 2223–33.

 2Rehm J., Room R., Monteiro M., et al., (2003), “Alcohol as a risk factor for the global burden of disease,” European Addiction Research, 9, 157–64.

 3Blanco C., Okuda M., Wright C., et al., (2008), “Mental health of college students and their non-college-attending peers: Results from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 65(12),1429–37.

 4World Health Organization (2014), Globalstatus report on alcohol and health 2014.