9 Reasons Why Britain Isn’t Nearly As Drunk As You Think It Is

Britain is a nation of boozers, right?

We’re famous for it. Especially our teenagers. The newspapers are full of terrible stories about young people being sick and falling over in town centres.

1.
And it’s true, to an extent. Britain does drink more than the average European nation.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Alcohol Report 2014, Britain drinks 11.6 litres of pure alcohol per person per year. (We’re the red line, above.) The European average is 10 litres. Mind you, we’re no Belarus, which tops the charts with 17.5 litres.

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But it’s far from the whole story. In fact, Britain’s alcohol consumption has been dropping for a decade.

According to statistics from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), alcohol consumption went up for the first few years of the millennium, peaked in 2004, and has been dropping ever since.

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And the drop-off has been most dramatic among the young. They’re less likely to be frequent drinkers.

According to a new report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), just 2% of 16- to 24-year-olds in 2013 had drunk on five or more days in the week before the survey. That’s a drop of more than two-thirds since 2005.

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They’re less likely to binge-drink.

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And they’re more likely to be teetotal.

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Of course, “Britain” isn’t one place. London is packed with teetotallers…

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…while people in Scotland and the north of England are much more likely to be binge-drinkers.

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But in general, we’re drinking less than we have for years. And it’s not just drink. Drug use is dropping, too.

Home Office stats show that the use of all drugs (although this chart excludes mephedrone) has been in decline for nearly two decades. And again, the trend is most noticeable among the young.

9.
Exactly why all this is happening isn’t entirely clear. Part of the reason might be the growing Muslim population.

And it might also have to do with the fact that since the 2007 financial crash, young people have less disposable income.

But for whatever reason, Britain isn’t as boozy as it used to be, and today’s young people are much better behaved than their parents ever were.
Cheers!

Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Tom Chivers at tom.chivers@buzzfeed.com.

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