Brits are Reliant on After-Work Booze, Says Benenden Research

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Study commissioned by Benenden Healthcare shows alarming numbers of British public turning to the bottle of an evening

Brits need to keep a careful eye on themselves to ensure that they are not reliant on alcoholic drinks as part of a day-to-day routine.

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The average Brit hits the bottle at 7.11pm on a weekday night, a study found recently. Research revealed a stressful day at work leaves the typical adult reaching into the fridge for a cold alcoholic beverage just an hour and 25 minutes after arriving home. Almost three quarters of us believe we need a drink to 'unwind'. Incredibly one in five people admitted they drink 'too much'. And wine has now taken over from lager as our favourite evening tipple.

Lawrence Christensen, Head of Communications for leading mutual healthcare provider Benenden Healthcare Society, which commissioned the study among 3,000 Brits, said: “Whilst we are seeing a positive change in British drinking habits, it is still clear from these results that alcohol forms a major part of routine daily behaviour.

“Current government guidelines recommend a maximum of 3 to 4 units of alcohol per day for men and 2 to 3 units per day for women. But it can often be forgotten that just one large glass of wine can place you at this maximum in one go and successive drinks on a regular basis can give rise to health concerns.

“It can be worrying if regular alcohol consumption forms a routine habit, which then becomes hard to break out of. With three quarters of Brits believing that they need a drink in order to unwind, we should encourage alternatives. There are many activities that we can undertake at the end of a long hard day's work, including taking on a new fitness or health regime, having a relaxing bath or reading a good book which can be cheaper and definitely more beneficial to longer-term health.

“Brits need to keep a careful eye on themselves to ensure that they are not reliant on alcoholic drinks as part of a day-to-day routine.”

The report found four out of ten adults regularly crack open a bottle of alcohol on a workday evening. It also revealed the extent to which pubs are no longer seen as the ideal venue for a pint or two with just six per cent heading to their local boozer after work.

Worryingly, one in six said they drink alcohol in the evening 'out of habit', while a similar number said it was 'escapism'. One in six also said they opened a bottle 'to help them forget their day'. Almost one in ten said they needed one to help them 'get to sleep'.

Thursday and Friday nights emerged as the booziest nights of the week, with one in four drinking on a Thursday and almost seven out of ten boozing on a Friday night. One in six they found themselves reaching for a refreshing beverage on a Monday night, while one in five drink on a Wednesday. One in four said they struggled to go a week without a drink. One in ten said they wouldn't last three days.

The study also found the average adult consumes around eleven alcoholic units – the equivalent of eleven small glasses of wine or just over five pints – per week.

Worryingly, one in twenty said they knock back more than twenty units at the weekend alone. And while the average Brit has downed eleven units in one sitting, a quarter have had twenty or more.

The magnitude of Brits' drinking habits also came to light. A quarter have had to cut back on the amount they drank because they realised it was becoming too much, while 4 per cent said they 'can't have fun if they don't drink'. Another 13 per cent said they 'drink to get drunk' rather than have a tipple because they enjoy it.

One in six reckon their partner downs too much alcohol, but after approaching them about it, ended in a row for three in ten. One in ten would keep quiet for fear of their reaction.

Dr. Tony Williams, Occupational Health Physician at Benenden Hospital in Cranbrook, Kent, commented on the results of the study and the health implications of consuming too much alcohol.

“While the majority of the population drink sensibly, a large number consume hazardous levels of alcohol leading to 30,000 to 40,000 excess deaths a year in UK,” he said. “In many cases they are entirely unaware that their drinking is causing substantial harm, particularly binge drinkers who limit their consumption to weekends.

“Hazardous drinking leads to 863,300 hospital admissions a year, and costs the country £22bn-55bn a year. Drinking more than an average of 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units a day for women can cause significant harm, and binge drinking is classed as over around 6 units in a day for women and 8 for men.

“Many wine glasses hold three units of alcohol, so a single large glass a night can be harmful for women. Excess alcohol does not lead to good sleep, and alcohol is a depressant, so regular excessive drinking prevents refreshing sleep and causes low mood and clinical depression.

“21st century lifestyles can be stressful, but there are much better ways to ease stress after a hard day's work. Going for a run, training in the gym or walking the dog will ease stress and bring major health benefits.

“Drinking at home has increased substantially, and this encourages children to drink and gives them easy access to alcohol. Hospital admissions and alcoholic liver damage in children has seen a worrying increase in recent years.”

Notes for editors

The survey was carried out by online market researchers between the 16th and 21st February 2010. It consists of a nationally representative sample of 3,000 working Brits.

Founded in 1905 and based in York since 1990, Benenden Healthcare Society is one of the UK’s longest serving and most respected mutual healthcare societies.

Winner of ‘Large Business of the Year’ at 2010 York Press Business Awards.

The Society has a membership of more than 930,000 and provides a range of discretionary health care services to public sector workers and their families as well as employees of organisations whose aims and objectives are compatible with those of the Society, including Charities, Co-operatives, Credit Unions and other mutual organisations.

For further information, please contact Neil Barnes, New Media & Community Relations Executive, on 0845 052 5767 or Lawrence Christensen, Head of Communications, on 0845 052 5787.


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