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John Gillen

Posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 at 3:08 pm.

By John Gillen - Last Updated: 16 March 2023

Is Drinking An Expensive Habit?

Lots of people in the UK like to relax with a beer or a glass of wine and in general, there’s not much wrong with that. With the cost of living spiralling though, that drink in your hand may be an unnecessary expense and many people drink considerably more than the recommended guidelines for safer drinking.

This can soon add up and, if you drink to excess, it’s easy to tip into a routine that sees you drinking more and more, with all the costs and risks that go with that behaviour.

How Much Does the Average Drinker Spend?

It can be difficult to get an exact figure when it comes to how much we spend on alcohol. The government’s ‘Family food’ datasets, for example, suggest that in 2020, the average spend on alcohol per person per week was £7.43 across the UK.

This included £3.92 on alcohol for the household each week and £3.51 for consumption outside the home. In Scotland, the average spend in 2019 was £6.78. In England, it was £7.28, in Wales £6.24 and in Northern Ireland £6.02.

According to another release by the Scottish government, however, Scots bought enough alcohol for the average adult to drink 19 units of alcohol per week. This is equivalent to nearly 40 bottles of vodka or around a hundred bottles of wine every year.

It also means that, on average, every adult in Scotland is drinking 36% more than the UK-wide lower-risk guidelines of 14 units per week.

Considering Scotland has a minimum unit price of 50p per unit, this would suggest that Scots were spending on average a minimum of £9.50 per week – even if every unit purchased was at the very minimum price.

And, of course, few people exactly fit the national average statistics on anything. Some people don’t drink at all, others regularly drink lots of comparatively cheap alcohol at home and some may drink less consistently but at more expensive prices in pubs, bars and restaurants.

Rather than considering the national average, it may be more useful to think about what you spend and drink personally. Don’t just guesstimate as you are likely to be on the low side.

Keep an accurate track of how much you drink and at what cost for a few weeks and you might be surprised at the results. You can calculate how much you drink a week using our drink calculator.


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Factors Influencing the Cost of Alcohol

There are a number of factors that can influence the cost of alcoholic beverages. A similar minimum unit pricing (MUP) to the one mentioned above for Scotland also exists in Wales at 50p per unit. This means that a bottle of wine containing 10 units of alcohol cannot be sold for less than £5 and a standard strength pint of beer (2.5 units) cannot be sold for under £1.25.

There is no such law in the UK, although some have called for it to be introduced and a proposal is under consultation in Northern Ireland.

This is because alcohol unit pricing has been shown to reduce alcohol-related harm. According to the campaign group the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), an alliance of more than 60 non-governmental organisations including medical royal colleges, charities, unions and treatment providers, it’s estimated that introducing a 50p MUP in England would save 525 lives and cut healthcare costs by £326 million every year.

Wherever you are in the UK though, you’ve probably noticed that you’re unlikely to find a pint for £1.25 in a pub or bar and other factors than minimum pricing can affect the price of alcohol. These include government taxes, profitability and market forces such as inflation – which is very pertinent right now.

If you are looking for a way to cut back on your regular expenses, cutting back on your drinking could be one easy way to do it.


Your Mental and Physical Health

Monetary costs are not the only costs of excessive drinking. Did you know, for example, that alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages?

Alcohol is linked to numerous illnesses and health conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, depression, dementia, sexual problems, infertility and several types of cancer.

And then there are wider societal issues. Problem drinking can cause problems in relationships, families, the workplace and school. The cost to the NHS could be a staggering £3.5 billion per year and alcohol is also a significant factor in violence, domestic abuse, crime and anti-social behaviour in general.


How Can You Prevent Excessive Drinking?

If you are concerned about your own drinking – whether because of the cost to your purse, your health or any other reason – there are some simple things you can do to cut back.

The NHS has a number of tips, including:

  • Set a weekly target and don’t go over it (the NHS Drink Free Days app is good for this).
  • Choose drinks that are lower in alcohol (these may also cost less, although that is not always the case).
  • Try different social activities that do not involve drinking.
  • Set a ‘booze budget’. If you are going out, take only as much cash as you want to spend or set up a spending alert on your card.
  • Don’t get involved in buying rounds as this can see people egging each other on.


Get Help With Your Drinking Habits

If the tips above are not enough to help you cut down on your alcohol consumption, you might have an alcohol addiction that requires more extensive professional help. Alcohol can be extremely addictive and one of the defining characteristics of addiction is that you will have the compulsion to continue drinking despite negative consequences.

This makes it extremely difficult to quit using willpower alone, but addiction and problem drinking can be successfully treated.

Contact us for confidential advice and information if any of this applies to you. You can also call us on 01908 489 421 or email us at to start treatment today.


Frequently Asked Questions

How beneficial is residential rehab?

Extremely beneficial. The intensive short burst nature of residential rehab quickly gets you clean and starts you on the journey towards remaining sober. With residential rehab, you can see you are not alone on your journey – an aspect of recovery that cannot be emphasised enough.

How do you convince someone to go to rehab?

There is no set path to getting someone the help they need. Getting educated about addiction as a disease, researching possible rehab options and looking for professional help are good ways to approach the topic. Having answers for possible reservations and being supported by a professional may put the person you are trying to convince more at ease and more amenable to the idea.

Is long term recovery achievable?

Of course it is. It’s not something that happens overnight, and you must take life one day at a time – being sure to not put too much pressure on yourself and realise that the longest journeys are made by putting one foot in front of the other. Making use of the resources available and leaning on people for support will be key to achieving long-term recovery and leading a better life than the one that brought you to Asana Lodge.


John Gillen - Author - Last Updated: 26 July 2022

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of Nad+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. his passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases.

The journey continues, in recent times john has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with Nad+ scientists and the very best of the medical profession in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Clinics own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists, Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with Nad+ therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.

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