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Brits turn to drink to help them cope, survey finds

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

15th January 2018 – Almost 3 in 5 UK adults depend on alcohol to help them deal with the pressures of day to day life, a survey has revealed.

The trend applies almost equally to men and women and is seen across all age ranges, according to figures compiled by Drinkaware and YouGov.

Winter blues

"January can be a difficult time of year for many people and families up and down the country when day to day concerns about finances and debt come sharply into focus," says Elaine Hindal, Drinkaware's chief executive in a statement.

"What this thought-provoking survey shows is that a worrying number of people are drinking alcohol to help them cope with the pressures of day to day life."

According to the poll:

  • 58% say they drink for at least 1 coping reason
  • 38% say they drink to forget their problems
  • 47% report that they drink to cheer themselves up when in a bad mood
  • 41% say drinking helps when they feel depressed or nervous

Depression and anxiety

The survey also reveals that people in lower income groups, who are more likely to be experiencing financial and housing worries, are more likely to be relying on alcohol as a crutch. For instance, 41% of people in the lowest income groups say they turn to booze to forget about their problems, compared with 33% of those in the highest social groups.

"Whilst people might think having a drink after a hard day can help them relax, in the long run it can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety and make stress harder to deal with," says Elaine Hindal. "This is because regular, heavy drinking interferes with the neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.

"The number of people who are drinking when they are already feeling depressed or nervous, and at levels which are harmful to both their physical and mental health is also deeply concerning."

The data is based on a poll of 6,174 UK adults aged 18 to 75 carried out online in March and April 2017.

Alcohol guidelines

UK guidelines recommend that men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week. That is the equivalent of 6 standard 175ml glasses of wine or 6 pints of normal strength beer.

This year, health charities have been promoting 'Dry January' which tries to persuade drinkers to go a whole month without alcohol.

According to Alcohol Concern, 62% of people who take part say they sleep better and have more energy.

Reviewed on January 15, 2018

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