Young adults are more likely to drink at high risk levels despite growth in non-drinkers
- The report The Sober Myth: Are Young Adults Really a Generation of Non-Drinkers, surveyed more than 5,200 young adults aged 18-24 from across the UK between 2017 and 2023
- Four in five young adults (79 per cent) still drink alcohol and are more likely to binge drink and drink at high risk or dependent levels compared to drinkers aged 25 and over
- Young adults have the highest rates of non-drinking, rising from 14 per cent in 2017 to 21 per cent in 2023
Young adult drinkers are more likely to binge drink and drink at high-risk or possible dependent levels compared to the rest of the population, according to new research by Drinkaware, published today (Friday).
The research surveyed 5,213 young adults aged 18 to 24 over a six-year period and revealed that while more young adults are not drinking alcohol, rising from 14 per cent in 2017 to 21 per cent in 2023, four in five (79 per cent) still drink alcohol. Young adults who drink alcohol are more likely to binge drink (74 per cent vs 63 per cent), and they are twice as likely to drink at high risk or possible dependent levels compared to the rest of the population (11 per cent vs. six per cent).
The survey also found that compared to drinkers aged 25 and over:
- Young adult drinkers are more likely to screen positive for anxiety or depression (43 per cent vs. 26 per cent)
- Young adult drinkers are more likely to experience memory loss (40 per cent vs. 19 per cent), morning cravings (14 per cent vs. 4 per cent), and failure to meet their usual responsibilities (24 per cent vs. 12 per cent)
- Young adult drinkers are more likely to drink alcohol on nights out with friends (84 per cent vs. 74 per cent) but less likely to drink alone at home (43 per cent vs. 52 per cent)
- Young adults drink less often, at least once a week (46 per cent v 56 per cent)
Karen Tyrell, the charity Drinkaware's Chief Executive, said:
“It is really encouraging to see more young adults choosing not to drink and those that do, drink less often. 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.”
People can learn more about their drinking habits and get free tips and advice by doing the Drinkaware Drinking Check. This short quiz helps you find out if your drinking is putting your health at serious risk, visit www.drinkaware.co.uk
A full copy of The Sober Myth: Are Young Adults Really a Generation of Non-Drinkers is available to download for free on our research and evaluation reports page.
Notes to Editors
- The data in this press release is drawn from a series of Drinkaware Monitors which took place between 2017 and 2023. The survey is carried out by YouGov. More information on the survey and methodology can be found here. Any differences between groups reported in this report are statistically significant using 95% confidence intervals (i.e.,. Any differences between groups reported in this report are statistically significant using 95% confidence intervals (i.e. 5% significance level; p less than 0.05). This means we can be confident the differences are not down to chance.
- The Drinkaware Monitor has collected data on 52,199 adults in the UK including 5,213 young adults and 46,986 adults aged 25 and over between 2017 and 2023. This report will focus on Drinkaware Monitor data from young adults aged between 18 and 24 throughout. Any findings in this report will refer to data from the Drinkaware Monitor 2023 (n=10,473) unless stated otherwise. The 2023 monitor was made up of a similar proportion of men and women and a similar proportion of adults living in the most and least deprived areas. Most young adults lived in England (84%) followed by Scotland (8%), Wales (5%) and Northern Ireland (3%).
- Drinkaware is the UK’s leading alcohol charity which aims to reduce alcohol harm. Founded in 2006 by the UK Government, the devolved administrations, and representatives of the alcohol industry. Drinkaware is funded by unrestricted voluntary donations from 123 organisations. These include UK alcohol producers, retailers, supermarkets, venues, restaurant groups and sports associations.
- Drinkaware provides impartial, evidence-based information, advice, and practical resources; raising awareness of alcohol and its harms and working collaboratively with partners. drinkaware.co.uk