Brits are known around the world for their drinking culture

The Queen, The Beatles, cobbled streets and football. These are all things that Britain is famous for around the world.

But another common perception from abroad appears and that is one of a drinking culture. British people are often known for liking a drink and some would argue that we like it a little too much.

A 2018 study by joint researchers a Loughborough and Bournemouth universities about the thoughts of international students revealed that "interviewees felt that getting drunk was an important part of British cultural life and reported being initially surprised that drinking to excess was an expected part of university life", for instance.

This month, many up and down the UK are engaged in Sober October, aimed in part at raising awareness of the health benefits of abstinence.

In 2016, the World Health Organisation recorded that the total alcohol consumption per capita in the UK was 11.4 litres, below that of 17 other EU countries.

Additionally in the same year, Statista recorded the UK has around 1.4% of its population suffering with alcohol dependence. This was way down on the likes of Belarus, with 11%.

Relatively speaking, the UK does not seem so bad in comparison. However it is binge drinking that is a problem.

Again in 2016, statistics were released that showed the UK 13th in the world for binge drinking, with 28% of people saying they had done so in the previous 30 days.

So does the UK really have a problem with its culture?

Why does the UK have a drinking culture?

This is very difficult to pin down and relies on a range of factors.

Part of the reason is our love of the pub. Few things really say British culture like its collection of drinking spots and it is one of our main forms of socialising. Even those who don't drink alcohol often enjoy visiting the pub with their friends.

In 2019, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that Britain has around 47,200. However this has gone down significantly. In 2000, the UK had around 60,800 pubs.

Culture is often defined by the way we act, our characters and particular mannerisms that set us apart from others. With pubs so important to our socialising, and therefore the way we act, it is easy to see how pubs are important to our culture.

But another thing synonymous with British culture, the weather, may also play a part.

A 2018 study also suggested links between colder weather and drinking, as well as areas that became darker during winter months.

Over-consumption is often caused if a person is struggling with their mental health. It is already known that darker days and winter months, which the UK experiences, can have a negative affect on a person's mental well-being.

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It may just be that we don't notice when we or people we know are being affected. says that in England, there are an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers and only 18% are receiving treatment.

"24% of adults in England and Scotland regularly drink over the Chief Medical Officer’s low-risk guidelines and 27% of drinkers in Great Britain binge drink on their heaviest drinking days," they said.

"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."

What is binge drinking?

The term 'binge drinking' refers to to alcohol consumption in a short space of time. For men, it is the consumption of eight units of alcohol in a short session whereas for women it is six units.

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For reference, six units is around two pints of 5% strength beer, or two large glasses of wine.

This is according to the NHS though, what is a binge depends on the person. Some people's bodies has certain characteristics that allows them to drink more, others just have a high tolerance.

For a free, confidential helpline for anyone who is concerned about their drinking, or someone else's, use the Drinkaware helpline at 0300 123 1110, open weekdays 9am-8pm and weekends 11am-4pm.

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