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June 06, 2007

8 Million Problem Drinkers

So, apparently there are more than 8 million problem drinkers in the UK:

More than eight million people in Britain are considered problem drinkers, according to figures released yesterday by the Department of Health.

One in six adults indeed. The cost?

'Harmful' means they are drinking above sensible levels and are experiencing symptoms of harm. The total bill from drink-related health, crime and disorder problems is estimated at £20 billion.

Leave aside how they calculated that number (I'm sure there's more than one kitchen sink in there) and think what it actually means.

UK GDP is of the order of £1.1 trillion, £1.2 trillion. Say, £1,200,000,000,000.

The damage caused by alcohol in total is £ 20 billion, or £20,000,000,000.

So the costs are 1.6% of total output.

In return, one in six of the adult population is merry, possibly even happy, for some hours each and every day.

Bit of a bargain, isn't it? Shouldn't we tell the happiness researchers?

June 6, 2007 in Food and Drink | Permalink

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Comments

More to the point, alcoholic drink sales contribute about twice that 20 billion to the GDP.

Posted by: DocBud | Jun 6, 2007 10:10:57 AM

And drinkers pay about £12bn in VAT and beer/wine/spirits duties.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jun 6, 2007 10:17:11 AM

And earlier drink related deaths mean a saving on state pensions and all that time in old people's homes watching daytime tv.

Posted by: Peter Pryor | Jun 6, 2007 10:49:20 AM

More to the point "It's none of your fucking business what I drink you meddling fucking nanny bastard state".

cough.

Posted by: AntiCitizenOne | Jun 6, 2007 11:21:12 AM

More to the point "It's none of your fucking business what I drink you meddling fucking nanny bastard state".

If you listen very carefully you may be able to hear the applause and vigorous head nodding coming from my computer in the Northern hinterlands of York. Surely that is the only point that should matter in this issue.

Posted by: sortapundit | Jun 6, 2007 12:01:56 PM

This has absolutely nothing to do with either the ecomonics of drinking or the health of the population.

It is to do with tearing down the fabric of everything that is British, the places where ordinary people gather to socialise and discuss events of the day.

Pubs like post offices are where people gather to discuss the latest gossip about ministers or silly laws, and unless it can be a gathering that is controlled, it is considered to where dissent is fermented.

It is, to put it bluntly, Totalitarianism by legislation.

Posted by: IanP | Jun 6, 2007 12:06:23 PM

As for people who drink at home, this also now needs to be controlled, as research in Wales and Ireland has already proved that as the Smoking Ban digs deeper, people are more likely to drink at home.

Gatherings of people who would normally go to the pub are now turning into social evenings at home.

So big brother decrees that this must be controlled at all costs.

Posted by: IanP | Jun 6, 2007 12:14:29 PM

Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, said that while a voluntary approach was preferred, banning advertising and happy hours was being considered.

On what grounds could the government ban private businesses from setting and adjusting their own prices? What next - a ban on introductory offers for credit cards to remove the temptation to assume debt? The removal of collectible toys in Happy Meals to dissuade children from buying them?


The report said: "We can be reasonably certain that self-reported data... understates actual consumption and that people are drinking more than they think they are."

No, people are well aware of their level of alcohol consumption. They have evidence on two fronts - the first being the actual experience of purchasing, opening and consuming said alcohol, the second being the empty wallet at the end of a night to the pub.

Self-reported data understates actual consumption not because people drink more than they think, but because people are unwilling to admit their level of drinking to any random goon in the street holding a clipboard - just as the majority of women would be unwilling to accurately report their age, and the average man would be reluctant to give his penis size. Does that mean that we all all older and less gifted in the pants department?

Or does it mean that this report is a pile of steaming monkey shit?

Tim, why is it that every time I visit your site I end up in a rage within five minutes? Post some pictures of kittens and bunny rabbits please, if only for the sake of my blood pressure.

Posted by: sortapundit | Jun 6, 2007 12:21:06 PM

Despite enjoying a daily tipple, I was always relieved to see that I was well within the recommended limits ... until I realise that those are WEEKLY limits, not DAILY.

Per the paper this morning, "7.1 million 'hazardous and harmful drinkers' ... men who drink four pints a night at least once a week or women who regularly have six small glasses of wine in one sitting".

Notwithstanding the rampant sexism of this definition ... once a week? Once a bloody week?

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Jun 6, 2007 12:49:59 PM

men who drink four pints a night at least once a week or women who regularly have six small glasses of wine in one sitting".

Wow, I didn't even notice the once a week part - further proving that this is a pile of bollocks.

Last night I played a vigorous hour of badminton, showered, wandered over to a local pub eating an apple and went on to drink five pints while doing a pub quiz with friends.

In an hour or so I'm going to walk a few miles down the River Ouse, maybe working up to a light jog if I fancy it.

Tonight I'm visiting friends for a meal on the other side of town. We'll eat good food, work through a bottle or two of decent wine and then maybe go out for a nightcap.

Tomorrow I'm driving to the Lake District for the weekend where I'll spend the days walking tens of miles aroung the Wasdale area and the nights sitting in a cozy rural pub, catching up with friends from back home and generally enjoying myself.

This is the life of a hazardous and harmful drinker. In the eyes of the government I am slowly but surely killing myself, and legislation is required to protect me from my own reckless self-harm.

Please.

Posted by: sortapundit | Jun 6, 2007 1:14:10 PM

@ IanP:

a) pubs are where *beer*, not *dissent* is fermented (if they have an on-site microbrewery). Dissent may be formented, of course.

b) don't be so silly. the pubs which offer BOGOFs and feature puking fighting youths are not the ones where modern-day Orwells drink pints of mild and discuss the issues of the world, they're the ones where chavs talk about Big Brother. the lot in power are *health fascists*, not *actual fascists*...

Posted by: john b | Jun 6, 2007 1:37:49 PM

I think you're rather missing the point: we're being forced to be free. Let us rejoice!

I'm looking forward the outlawing of family life, which should surely follow along on the road to whatever Utopian vision is being pursued.

Posted by: Marcin Tustin | Jun 6, 2007 1:49:55 PM

[In return, one in six of the adult population is merry, possibly even happy, for some hours each and every day]

there seems to be an implicit assumption here that people with a drinking problem are happy drunks.

Tim adds: I am.

Posted by: dsquared | Jun 6, 2007 1:59:55 PM

Marcin, family life is already on the way out. the NHS (and I suspect other govt depts also) are not allowed to refer to mother's or father's any more, only parents or guardians.
This is a spin off from the Equality laws, so as not to offend those in Civil Partnerships.

John B, the BOGOF style pubs are in a minority, my comments were a reference to pubs in general, the rural pub, the city pub where good light humoured conversation takes place, or those where academics tend to meet, which present no harm or threat to anyone, except those who wish to control.

Posted by: IanP | Jun 6, 2007 2:08:08 PM

there seems to be an implicit assumption here that people with a drinking problem are happy drunks.

Which is worse than the assumption that people with a 'drinking problem' (in the eyes of the report, anyone who goes out to the pub and drinks more than a slimline tonic water) are all violent, suicidal wife-beaters? I'm a fucking ecstatic drunk.

Posted by: sortapundit | Jun 6, 2007 2:12:29 PM

Teetotaltotalitarianism! Ian's right.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 6, 2007 2:48:34 PM

"there seems to be an implicit assumption here that people with a drinking problem are happy drunks"

After reading that article, I'm a fucking furious drunk.

Posted by: squawkbox | Jun 6, 2007 4:42:50 PM

The next step is for the bin inspectors to count the empties.

Posted by: DocBud | Jun 6, 2007 10:52:55 PM

Just back from a wine and cheese evening around a friend and colleague's house. We drank at least a bottle of wine each, emphasis on the "at least". I would have thought this thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining social event contributed to my overall health but evidently it is a destructive aspect of contemporary society. Having learned the errors of my ways, I shall for next week be organising an evening of green tea and low-fat rice cakes instead.

Posted by: Philip Thomas | Jun 6, 2007 11:39:53 PM

Yup. A summer in Russia is still looking like the better option, even if the dickheads in the municipality have switched off my hot water supply for a few months.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jun 7, 2007 12:04:31 AM

I know these wankers. They're the leather-elbow-patched nebbishes (or sensible tweed skirt-wearing harpies) who used to gum up the Uni bar with their halves of mild ale and single glasses of inoffensive Sauvignon Blanc while I and my fellow members of the Elec Eng department were on our eighth pints. Miserable gang of prod-nosed spastics the lot of 'em. They should be collectively beaten to death with alcopop bottles.

Thank Christ I got out. I am now going to drink heavily (and on a school night, too, naughty me).

Posted by: David Gillies | Jun 7, 2007 1:42:57 AM

Thank Christ I got out. I am now going to drink heavily (and on a school night, too, naughty me).

Bravo. I have just had a very enjoyable evening with good friends, during which we consumed several alcoholic beverages, learned a few things about each other and generally enhanced our shared experience on this planet. I hope your night is just as pleasurable as mine - even more so if you are the same David Gillies I used to read over at Daily Pundit. Excellent writing, and valid opinions.

Especially when drunk :)

Posted by: sortapundit | Jun 7, 2007 2:19:01 AM

Ah, and I see by clicking on your username that you are indeed said David Gillies. Consider me a renewed reader :)

Posted by: sortapundit | Jun 7, 2007 2:27:12 AM