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Drinkaware Monitor 2019 Drinking behaviours and peer pressure

The Drinkaware Monitor 2019 surveyed three representative samples of UK, Scottish, and Welsh adults, aged 18-85, online between 11th and 18th July 2019, to investigate drinking behaviours, and attitudes and experiences of peer pressure to drink (or to drink more than initially intended).


The Drinkaware Monitor 2019 surveyed three representative samples of adults, aged 18 to 85, in the UK (n=2,145), Scotland (n=1,019), and Wales (n=1,018). Respondents were asked about their drinking behaviour, as well as attitudes and experiences of peer pressure to drink alcohol.

Read the full 2019 Monitor here


The main objectives of this research were to:

  • Provide an overview of adults’ drinking behaviour in the UK, including how frequently and how much they are drinking.
  • Explore attitudes to, and experiences of, peer pressure (i.e. pressure from others) to drink alcohol, or to drink more than initially intended.


Key Findings

Drinking behaviour

  • 81% of UK adults drink alcohol at least once a year—a statistically significant decrease on the Drinkaware Monitor 2018 (84%).
  • One quarter (26%) of the total UK adult population fall into the ‘increasing risk’ category of the AUDIT-C[1] measure, and one in seven (14%) are defined as ‘higher risk’ drinkers.


Pressure to drink alcohol

Among those who drink:

  • The most common way in which people report drinking more than initially expected is because they were ‘in a round’, with 37% of respondents having ever experienced this.
  • One third (35%) report drinking more than initially expected because they were encouraged by others (35%), or because they didn’t want to be impolite and refuse a drink someone had offered (34%).

Base: All UK adults aged 18-85 who drink alcohol (n=1,860). Respondents were asked: ‘For the following question, please think about your drinking habits (e.g. home, bar, pub, club etc.), approximately, how often, if at all, do you experience the following?

Findings suggest that it is implied pressure rather than overt pressure which is more likely to lead to higher than intended alcohol consumption.


Influencing others to drink more

When thinking about ways in which they may have influenced others to drink more:

  • One in five UK adults who drink report ever having encouraged someone to drink more alcohol after they said they didn’t want to (21%) or gave someone an alcoholic drink or topped up their glass without asking first (19%).


Measures to avoid or mitigate pressure to drink alcohol

  • Over a third of drinkers (37%) report having ‘nursed’ their drink to avoid pressure to have another.
  • A third (32%) of drinkers have spoken out for themselves when they have been under pressure to drink alcohol, and three in ten (28%) have spoken out on behalf of someone else when they have been under pressure to drink alcohol.
  • One in five (20%) have made an excuse to avoid drinking an alcoholic drink instead of saying ‘no’.

[1] The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C) is a three-question alcohol screening test that identifies individuals drinking at hazardous levels. A risk score is determined by the following brackets: ‘low risk’ (scoring 0-4 through the AUDIT-C questionnaire); ‘increasing risk’ drinkers scoring 5-7, and ‘higher risk’ drinkers scoring 8-12.

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