Drinkaware Monitor 2022

Date Published

21st November 2022




New research revealed today from Drinkaware, the UK’s leading alcohol charity, shows that 41% of UK adults have been negatively affected by someone else’s drinking in the last year, with younger people and ethnic minority groups particularly impacted. 

The Drinkaware Monitor 2022 is the annual ‘state of the nation' survey conducted for Drinkaware by YouGov, providing an insight into the drinking habits of 6,318 UK adults. 

The focus of this year’s Monitor is the harm alcohol can do to others. Those surveyed highlighted the impact other people’s drinking has on them, from feeling physically threatened, being involved in an argument, feeling uncomfortable at social occasions, or being let down by someone. 

Key findings from the report show that people from ethnic minority groups are more likely to have felt physically threatened by someone who has been drinking than white UK adults (13% compared to 7% respectively).    

Younger people are also particularly affected with 55% of all 18-34 year olds negatively affected by someone else’s drinking in the last year, compared to the 41% UK average. And 21% of people between the ages of 18-34 felt emotionally hurt or neglected by others drinking, compared to the UK average of 14%. 

The report also found that: 

  • 29% of UK adults have been concerned about someone else's drinking in the last year. This is a significant increase on the 16% of UK adults who were concerned about someone else’s drinking during the pandemic when a similar question was asked in summer 2021.  
  • 63% of UK adults living with friends or housemates have been negatively impacted by someone else’s drinking in the last year 
  • 26% of UK adults experienced multiple negative effects due to someone else's drinking in the last 12 months.
Infographic showing 41% of UK adults have been negatively impacted by someone else's drinking ;

Interviews conducted for the Drinkaware Monitor’s qualitative research revealed several ways in which respondents are negatively impacted by someone else’s drinking:  

  • They identified that there is often a 'tipping point' where behaviour changes and people become unpleasant, emotional or aggressive. When experienced on a regular basis, these behaviours can cause significant damage to relationships.  
  • Several participants said other people's behaviour when drinking had taken a huge toll. Impacts ranged from the minor, such as having to leave a party early to take a friend home, to life changing such as having to give up work to care for an alcohol dependent partner and living with constant stress and worry 

In light of this research, Drinkaware’s CEO Karen Tyrell calls on the Government to act now to reduce alcohol harm, pointing out that the Government currently doesn’t have an alcohol harm reduction strategy in place for England. 

Commenting, Drinkaware CEO, Karen Tyrell, said:  

"We all know alcohol can be harmful to individuals, but our research shines a light on the impact it has on wider society. Alcohol can cause serious upset to others around us, damaging relationships and careers, and it's especially worrying that other people’s drinking is hitting ethnic minorities and younger people the hardest.  

“Alcohol harm puts huge pressure on public services as well as employers, friends and family. The NHS is facing enormous, sustained pressure, and police forces across the country are becoming increasingly stretched.  

“Drinkaware has charted changing trends around how and when people use alcohol and now we need Government to act to reduce the damage alcohol does to our society, our public services and to individuals. 

“England is the only UK nation without a strategy in place to tackle the harm alcohol causes to society. Drinkaware urges new Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, to come together with experts to create a new coordinated strategy.” 

Research participant Dave, a mixed-race ex-serviceman living in rural Wales, said: 

"When I go out at the weekend I often get racist comments from people drinking. It happens so often that my partner and I have stopped going out into town to avoid it.  

"It’s got to the point that I don’t feel safe around people who are drunk. The atmosphere can be really hostile." 

Research participant Terry, a retired lorry driver, said:  

"My ex-wife used to become nasty when she was drinking. It felt like alcohol was the most important thing in her life so it really impacted our girls’ lives. She would rather spend money on booze than things for the kids.  

“It was a factor in us breaking up and our kids don’t drink much at all because of it. Their mum's relationship with alcohol really affected them.” 

Notes to Editors

  1. Read the full research report.
  2. For more information  and media requests please email mediateam@drinkaware.co.uk or call the media team on 07896523839 
  3. New Drinkaware CEO Karen Tyrell brings over 20 years of experience in health and social care, most recently in the national alcohol and drug treatment charity Humankind. She is available for interview, please contact Drinkaware media team.  
  4. The report also found several key themes on individual drinking habits: Almost a quarter (23%) of drinkers drink at home alone on a weekly basis. And those that drink at home alone most often are more likely to be drinking more alcohol overall. More drinkers are binge drinking this year than in 2021, with 63% of drinkers doing so at least once in the last year compared to 59% in 2021. This is the first increase in 3 years, meaning that binge drinking is returning to pre-pandemic levels. 
  5. 41% of UK adults have been negatively affected by someone else's drinking in the last year - This is based on the participant reporting at least of one of the following impacts in the last 12 months:  Had a serious argument that did not include physical violence, Had money that would have improved the quality of my life spent on their alcohol-related purchases, Felt genuinely concerned that they may cause harm to my children or someone else’s children, Had to spend my personal time caring for a person with a long-term health condition or disability that resulted from their current or previous drinking, Been let down by someone due to them failing to do something that I was counting on them to do because of their drinking, Felt physically threatened, Been emotionally hurt or neglected, Been physically hurt due to them assaulting me or acting violently, Been physically hurt due to them accidentally injuring me (e.g. by falling on me), Been put at risk in a car when someone was driving after drinking, Felt forced or pressured into sex or something sexual, Felt uncomfortable or anxious at a social occasion (e.g. a party), Had someone break or damage something that mattered to me, Been kept awake due to noise or disruption, Drank alcohol myself in order to cope with the problems caused by their drinking, Had to stop seeing or being in contact with someone because of their drinking, Had to move out of my usual place of residence and stay somewhere else, Had contact with the police.  
  6. Binge drinking is defined by the ONS as more than 8 units of alcohol in a single session for men, or more than 6 units in a single session for women. That’s equivalent to about four pints of normal strength beer for a man or three pints for a woman. The Chief Medical Officers' guidelines for both men and women are: To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it's safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking over three or more days. 
  7. Drinkaware has conducted qualitative research to accompany the data. Drinkaware had individual conversations with 20 UK adults to gather impact stories. This means we can offer quotes from people with lived experience. Contact the media team for more information. 
  8. What is the Drinkaware Annual Monitor? Every year, Drinkaware commissions a representative survey to understand the UK’s drinking behaviours and motivations. A core subset of questions is included in the questionnaire every year to understand changes in key variables over time. Other questions are developed to reflect that year’s theme. The theme of the 2020 and 2021 Monitors was drinking during the coronavirus pandemic. The theme of the 2022 Monitor is the harm alcohol can do to others.  
  9. About the survey: UK-wide sample of 6,318 adults aged 18 to 85 were interviewed, including 3,692 in England, 1,013 in Wales, 1,001 in Scotland and 612 in Northern Ireland. The fieldwork was conducted online.  The sample was drawn from the YouGov research panel, with responses collected between 29th April and 26th May 2022. Data has been weighted to represent the UK adult (18-85) population according to age, gender, social grade and region. The sampling and weighting process is consistent with that used in the 2017,2018, 2019 and 2020 2021 Drinkaware Monitors.  In addition, there was a boost sample of participants from ethic minority backgrounds.  667 UK adults were interviewed, who were classified as Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups, Asian, Black, or Other ethnic groups, according to the UK Census categories. These were combined with 341 respondents in these categories who naturally fell out of the main Monitor sample, to make a total of 1,008 respondents in the final ethnic minority dataset. 
  10. About Drinkaware: Drinkaware is the UK’s leading alcohol charity which aims to reduce alcohol harm. We achieve this by providing impartial, evidence-based information, advice and practical resources; raising awareness of alcohol and its harms and working collaboratively with partners. www.drinkaware.co.uk / @drinkaware.