In this section of these resources, we outline a number of facts relating to alcohol use disorder and alcoholism. We’ve chosen the below facts to highlight a number of diverse issues arising from alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

By the time you’ve completed this section, you will better understand alcohol abuse and alcoholism from a logical standpoint. And you may re-evaluate your own drinking habits, if this happens, contact us at Ocean Recovery.

Fact #1: Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are recognised disorders

Both alcoholism and alcohol abuse are recognised illnesses under the category of ‘alcohol use disorder’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

This disorder causes the sufferer to drink excessive amounts of alcohol despite a number of negative consequences for doing so. For instance, alcohol abuse and alcoholism inflict negative consequences on the user’s health, career, relationships and social life.

Alcohol Tolerance

And alcoholism can coexist with, contribute to, or result from several different psychiatric syndromes. This is why at Ocean Recovery we offer dual-diagnosis to help you achieve a full recovery.

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Fact #2: Tolerance

One key symptom of alcohol use disorder is tolerance. This means more and more alcohol must be consumed in order to experience the desired effects of feeling drunk.

So, it is important to keep an eye on how much you are drinking because often you won’t notice your tolerance is increasing.

Fact #3: Alcohol abuse affects millions of people

In England alone, around nine million people are thought to drink more than the recommended daily limit: a maximum of 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men daily.

There are around 9,000 deaths in the UK each year linked to alcohol an around 7,500 alcohol-specific deaths in 2018. In 2018/19, 358,000 hospital admissions were alcohol-related.

Around 9% of men and 4% of women in the UK show signs of being alcohol dependent. This is according to official figures published by the NHS.

Fact #4: Alcoholism treatment costs the taxpayer billions of pounds

It’s thought that alcohol-related illnesses contribute to around 10% of all UK diseases and deaths. A study by the National Social Marketing Centre examined the external and private cost associated with alcohol. They concluded:

  • £22.6 billion was spent by households as a result of private healthcare, crime, violence, informal healthcare costs, unemployment and money spent on alcohol in the first place.
  • £21.9 billion was spent on grief and pain linked to disability, long term illness and death.
  • £3.2 billion was spent on public healthcare services.
  • £5 billion for other public services, police, fire brigade and social care.
  • £7.3 billion was spent by employers to cover sick days, productivity issues and accidents in the workplace.

Fact #5: Alcohol abuse is the third biggest lifestyle risk

Alcohol abuse is the third biggest lifestyle risk after obesity and smoking. Alcohol is responsible for 5.3% of all deaths worldwide. And it has been acknowledged there is a causal relationship between alcoholism and infectious diseases.


Fact #6: Minimum unit pricing

By far the most effective way of tackling alcohol abuse would be to enforce minimum unit pricing. This would force up the price of drinks containing lots of alcohol. This would also reverse the decades-old trend where alcohol continues to be more and more affordable. For instance, alcohol is 61% more affordable than it was back in 1980.

And since May 1st, 2018, there has been a minimum unit price of 50p. The government believes this will reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions and ultimately save lives.

Fact #7: It’s rare to seek out help for alcohol dependency

It’s estimated that a mere 1% of people seek out help for alcohol dependency. This means most people with the disease continue to inflict untold amounts of damage to their health, relationships, and career.


Fact #8: The NHS spends billions on medications to help treat alcoholism

In 2019, it was believed that 1 in 10 people admitted to hospitals are alcohol dependent and half of those are admitted because of their drinking, costing the NHS £3.5 billion in treatments every year. And year on year the budget allocated for these treatments and services has been cut. Resulting in many people going without treatment and ultimately falling further into their dependency.

Fact #9: Alcoholism treatment profits society

It’s estimated, by quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), that £1 invested in alcoholism treatment translates to £3 being saved on crime, health or welfare costs. And this number only increases to £1 invested translating to a £26 over 10 years.


Fact #10: Alcoholism treatment is fairly successful

The NHS says 59% of people seeking alcohol treatment in 2012-13 were now in recovery. And a study by Rudolf H. Moos and Bernice S. Moos found people that who accepted treatment were less likely to relapse and at the 3-year remission mark had less reliance on avoidance coping mechanisms.

Fact #11: Alcohol causes crime

Alcohol causes crime at multiple levels, from minor to major crimes. Alcohol famously lower inhibitions, impairing the drinker’s judgement and often making them feel ‘invincible’. This then leads to public-order offences, driving offences all the way to more major crimes like assault and even homicide.

A huge 30% of violent crimes in 2013-14 were committed in or around a public house. Where most of the violent crimes are stranger violence (42%), with 68% of these crimes occurring at night or in the evening.


Fact #12: Drink driving costs lives and injures many others

In 2017, 250 people lost their lives due to drink driving. 8,270 people were injured due to drink driving. 1,100 people suffered a serious injury during this period.

Drink Driving

A survey conducted by Drink Driving Insurance specialists in June 2020 asked 1000 people their opinions on drink driving limits in the UK:

  • 37.9% believe the drink driving limits should stay how they are.
  • 30.4% believe the drink driving limits should be lowered to zero.
  • 22.5% believe the drink driving limits should be lowered, but not to zero.
  • 9.2% believe the drink driving limits should be increased.

These results compile to mean 52.9% of the people surveyed want the drink driving limits to be lowered to some compacity.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 22, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.

Dr Robert Lutaaya - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: December 19, 2023

MBChB, MSc Psych

Dr Robert Lutaaya qualified in 1995 from Worclaw Medical University as MBChB, and obtained a MSc Psych from the University of Manchester in 2014. Dr Lutaaya has previously worked for the CGL Substance Misuse Service and as an on-call doctor substance misuse Doctor for 17 years before joining Ocean Recovery. Dr Robert Lutaaya is committed to helping those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.