The consumption of alcohol in the European region is widespread. Over time, this uptake has progressed to harmful levels. Alcohol is one of the top five causes of death, injuries, and chronic illnesses in almost all European countries.
Even as the popularity of alcohol in the UK continues to grow, one thing remains — The UK population’s relationship with this legal drug is far from healthy.
The Spike in Alcohol Use: How Did We Get There?
According to findings by WHO Europe region, Europe has the most number of drinkers and the highest levels of alcohol intake globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concerns over the public health burden of this substance in Europe.
In 2022, WHO is focused on developing a framework of high-level alcohol control policy activities in this region, which, if implemented, will significantly reduce consumption levels in the member countries.
There are five key factors fueling alcohol intake across European countries like the UK:
- The availability of alcohol
- The affordability of alcoholic beverages
- The aggressive marketing of alcohol
- Shifts in attitudes and cultural norms
- The Coronavirus pandemic
Over the years, the affordability of alcoholic drinks in many European countries has been consistently high.
Most countries have been reluctant to increase the prices of alcoholic beverages, fearing that doing so would lead to the illicit production of alcohol and the smuggling of harmful alternatives.
The fact that alcoholic beverages are fairly priced means consumption will continue to soar. In the UK alone, the surge in alcohol use due to the affordability factor is evident through these findings:
- Alcohol intake in the UK has doubled over the past 40 years
- The affordability of alcohol in the country in 2017 was almost 64% higher than it was in 1987
- By the end of 2020, total consumer spending on alcoholic drinks (for home use) was almost £26 billion. In 2005, spending was nearly £13 billion, suggesting that spending on alcohol today is more than double what people were spending back then
About a century ago, there were broad restrictions on the sale of alcohol. Over time, most of these restrictions were relaxed.
The number of licensed outlets selling alcoholic drinks has risen sharply in the UK. For instance, research shows that from 2000 to 2016, the number of these outlets had gone up by 5.1%.
As the opening of alcohol selling outlets and entertainment joints grew, people could conveniently access low-cost alcoholic beverages, and their alcohol intake practices intensified.
Shifts in Attitudes and Cultural Norms
The legalization of alcohol was the peak moment in its consumption. It became the drug of choice for most people in the UK. Due to its legal status, many perceive alcohol as an essential consumer product and a socially acceptable drug despite its risks of harm.
Changes in cultural norms, particularly the abandonment of the belief that it’s a social taboo for women to drink, influenced the use of alcohol amongst the female population. This cultural shift contributed to the overall surge in alcohol intake across the UK.
Aggressive Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol marketing in the UK has expanded rapidly, resulting in more drinking intentions and habits. The extensive advertisement of alcoholic beverages has recruited new groups of drinkers — the young people and women — by depicting the consumption of this substance as a normal part of life.
The alcohol marketplace in the UK has, over the years, become saturated. To remain competitive, retailers of alcoholic beverages have consistently resorted to below-cost pricing strategies and product offers that have attracted new consumers and encouraged regular users to drink more.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
The Coronavirus crisis created stressful conditions that intensified people’s tendencies to take alcohol.
In the UK, for instance, alcohol consumption during the pandemic year shot up by about 10% — the highest recorded compared to all other European countries. The pandemic led to many adopting drinking habits which they didn’t initially have.
To Recover From Alcohol Dependence, Get Started With Alcohol Home Detox
It’s no secret that alcohol use across the UK has increased at a much greater pace in the past years. This increment is worrying as it means more people are at risk of alcohol-related harm and premature deaths.
The regular intake of alcohol slowly builds up into a strong dependence on this substance. Your attempts to quit won’t bear fruit if you do this alone. To kickstart your healing process from alcohol dependence, you’ll need detox treatment to flush out the alcohol toxins from your body and give you a clean start.
If you are apprehensive about detoxifying in a rehab facility, you have the option of undergoing detoxification from alcohol at home with the help and maximum supervision of addiction treatment specialists. By going through this effective home-based detox process with a trusted provider, you’ll have completed the first step towards leading a sober life.
Read also: 4 Helpful Tips for Overcoming Alcohol Addiction