Less than half of mid-life drinkers “cutting back”, despite heightened alcohol risk

Date Published

22nd September 2019




Less than half of 40 to 64 year old drinkers – the age group most at-risk of alcohol-related health harms – have tried to reduce their drinking (49%), new figures released by independent alcohol education charity, Drinkaware reveal.

This is despite the vast majority of mid-life drinkers (85%) agreeing that cutting back on a few drinks is a good way to improve their health.

Drinkaware has this week launched its Drink Free Days, campaign, aimed at encouraging mid-life drinkers to moderate their alcohol consumption by taking at least three drink-free days every week.

One in three mid-life drinkers regularly drinks six to eight units of alcohol on a single occasion* (a bottle of wine typically contains 10 units). Government guidance recommends not drinking more than 14 units across a whole week.

Read the full 'No alcoholidays' campaign evidence pack

The YouGov survey of more than 3,000 UK adults aged 40 to 64 asked drinkers about the ways they currently moderate their drinking, and what techniques they’d consider using to cut down on their alcohol consumption.

Topping the list of techniques people would consider – but haven’t tried before – is portion control. Thirty percent of middle-age drinkers would be willing to drink smaller glasses of wine or smaller bottles of beer. A slightly smaller proportion of people (29%) would be willing to drink a lower strength alcoholic drink.

Other moderation techniques people would consider but haven’t tried before, include:

  • One in five (19%) say they’d be willing to drink non-alcoholic beer, wine or spirit substitutes
  • More than a quarter of people (27%) would be willing to record how much they’re drinking
  • One in five people (20%) would be willing to avoid always having alcohol in the house

Drinkaware Chief Executive, Elaine Hindal, says: “The reality is that the more you drink, the greater the risk for your health. If you drink regularly, one of the most simple and effective ways to improve your health and wellbeing is to have several drink-free days each week.

“My advice to incorporate more drink-free days into your week is to plan ahead. Think about the situations that usually involve alcohol and plan what you will do instead of drinking. There are loads of things you can do to make drink-free days fun, from taking long walks to trying a new dance class.

“Whatever you try, the key is for drink-free days to become part of your routine. Your body will thank you.”

As part of the research, Drinkaware found that 86% of people are positive to the idea of taking drink-free days**.

As part of the campaign, Drinkaware is encouraging people to use its DrinkCompare online tool to help them compare their drinking to the rest of UK and receive tailored information about the benefits of taking drink-free days.

As well as advice and facts, Drinkaware’s website has a hub of ideas and inspiration on activities people can do on drink-free days, including taking up regular exercise, trying a new hobby and even going for something outside of your comfort zone such as outdoor swimming.

Drinkaware advises, when drinking, keep track and stay within the Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines, which recommend drinking not more than 14 units of alcohol per week, spread over three or more days.

*monthly or more often

** currently doing, have done or considering

The Research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 3,702 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 27th November 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in England and Scotland (aged 40-64).