More people than ever in the UK are drinking to relieve stress

Nearly half the adults in Britain are drinking more than they ought to, and it’s not because they party too much. They are drinking to relieve stress, according to a survey conducted in May this year for Drinkaware, the UK-wide charitable organisation dedicated to reducing the misuse of alcohol.

Based on the response from about 2,000 men and women between the ages of 30 and 45, about one third of the men and almost half the women said their daily consumption of alcohol was over the levels suggested by the government’s guidelines. Those specify 3 to 4 units, or about a pint and half of 4% beer for men, and 2 to 3 units, or one 175ml glass of wine for women.

Out of that group, almost two-thirds said they drank to unwind after the work day, and about half said they were more likely to drink if the day had been stressful. More than a third said they thought about a drink on the way home, and more than two-thirds said they made sure to have alcohol available at home.

Most of those surveyed said work-related stress was the reason they wanted a drink, though about half also cited financial worries and a third said it was family concerns that moved them to drink. Overall, the survey concluded that for adults, alcohol is a form of stress relief rather than celebration.

Overuse of alcohol contributes to the risk of heart and liver disease, and it can disrupt sleep patterns and cause weight gain; more things to worry about. Drinkaware’s medical adviser Prof. Paul Wallace suggests taking ‘days off’ from alcohol, since the body develops a tolerance that can lead to more and more drinks ‘just to relax’.