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Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

Volume 457: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how her Department defines binge drinking; what assessment she has made of the impact of binge drinking on the NHS; and if she will make a statement. (124264)

The best available measure of levels of binge drinking, as used by the Office for National Statistics’ Information Centre for health and social care is the number of people who drank more than twice the recommended daily benchmark on at least one day in the previous week.

Using this measure, 23 per cent. of men reported drinking more than eight units on at least one day in the week prior to interview. The proportion ranged from 33 per cent. of men aged 16 to 24 to 6 per cent. of those aged 65 and over. Among women, 9 per cent. reported drinking more than six units on at least one day during the previous week; 24 per cent. of those aged 16 to 24, and 1 per cent. of those aged 65 and over.

The Government are determined to reduce the harms caused by alcohol misuse, both to people’s health and to the community through antisocial behaviour. Alcohol misuse is estimated to cost the NHS £1.7 billion per annum, with up to 35 per cent. of all accident and emergency attendance and ambulance costs, around £0.5 billion, estimated to be alcohol-related.


1. Statistics on Alcohol: England, 2006

2. Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England, 2004