Drunk and disorderly?

June 28, 2010, 9:40 PM GMT+0

The over 55s drink comparable amounts to their younger counterparts, but indulge less on a night out and are less likely to have engaged in adverse behaviour while under the influence of alcohol, a recent survey has found.
The survey dispels the idea that older people drink less, as 47% of respondents aged 55 or older said that they drink between four and sixty units of alcohol a week, compared to 46% of those surveyed aged 35-54 and 44% of those aged 18-34. Of these three age groups, 22% of 18-24 year-olds, 25% of 35-54 year-olds, and 23% of over 55s say they drink fewer than four units a week (the most popular option in each case).

However, although alcohol consumption is similar in volume across the various age categories, younger people are much more likely to drink heavily on a weekend night out than their elders, with 63% saying that they typically drink between 4 and 40 units of alcohol, while the equivalent figure for the over 55s is 22%. Furthermore, only 32% of those aged over 55 admit to having ‘been physically sick’ due to alcohol, compared with a sizeable majority (75%) of those in the 18-34 age category.

Drinking culture

The survey has uncovered evidence of a shift in drinking culture with activities like ‘one-night stands’ and underage drinking increasing in recent years. A huge 86% of over 55s claim they have ‘never’ had a ‘one-night stand’ compared with only 54% of 18-34 year olds.

In contrast, 27% of 18-34 year olds have had a ‘one-night stand’ on more than one occasion, while this figure is only six percent for those aged over 55. Moreover, young people are far more likely to agree with statements such as ‘I get flirty when I’m drunk’ (36% for 18-34s; 10% for over 55s) or ‘I often regret the amount I drink the next day’ (34% for 18-34s; 12% for over 55s). Perhaps more worryingly, 22% of 18-34s say they ‘often regret their behaviour [when drunk]’ compared to just five percent of over 55s.

First time drink

Intriguingly, the survey data also seems to indicate that Britons are getting drunk for the first time at a gradually younger age, with 40% of 18-34s overindulging for the first time between the ages of 11 and 15, a figure that falls to a mere six percent among the over 55s.

Although the survey confirmed that the vast majority of people, across genders, generations and classes enjoy a tipple, it’s clear that many are starting to drink an ever younger age and that excessive ‘youth’ behaviour is indeed alive and kicking.

Survey details and full results

YouGov Alcohol Market Trends and Brands Report