UK: Stressed Brits drink too much

Three in five (62%) Brits use alcohol to relax and unwind in the evenings according to new research from alcohol education charity Drinkaware. 

44% of the 2,008 30-45 year olds surveyed by ICM feel the need to relax and unwind everyday or most days of the week, with over a third (37%) thinking about having a swift drink before they even get home. People are more likely to have an alcoholic drink if they had a stressful day (44%) or a bad day at work (29%). The research reveals that stocking up on drink is part of a set routine; 68% have alcohol at home and almost three quarters (71%) buy it with their regular grocery shop.

 A third of men aged 30-45 and 43% of women of the same age group who drink at home report drinking above the daily unit guidelines. Over a fifth (21%) of men and one in six (15%) women report drinking every day or most days of the week. 

According to the charity, drinking alcohol at these levels is "putting many at risk of short and long term health harms like liver disease and cancer".  

The research also found:

  • Adults blame work/the office (60%), money/financial worries (49%) and home/family life (36%) as causes of stress
  • Drinkers usually have their first tipple with dinner (24%) or while watching TV afterwards (33%)

Siobhan McCann, head of campaigns and communications at Drinkaware, said: “Alcohol can be a ‘false friend’ when you are trying to deal with stress. Even though it might seem like a few drinks can relieve the pressures of the day, in the medium to long term it can actually add to them - whether they’re work, financial or family related. 

 “Stress can also be an excuse for people to drink more than they should, especially if they don’t realise the negative impact it can have on their health and wellbeing.

 “Think about your evening routine - if you spend most of your time on the sofa with a drink in your hand, look at other hobbies you can enjoy with family and friends to help clear your mind. With a summer of sport ahead, there has never been a better time to get out and get active.”

 In the UK, the government advises that people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men (equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer) and 2-3 units of alcohol for women (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine). ‘Regularly’ means drinking every day or most days of the week.