Did you Know? Drug and Alcohol Abuse Statistics


Did you know?

Alcohol and drug use is a serious problem in the UK, an estimated 29.2 million drink alcohol weekly (Office for National Statistics, 2018) and around 1 in 11 adults (16 – 59) have taken a drug in the last year across the UK (ManorClinic, 2020). Research also found that in 80% of UK regions, Cannabis is the most widely used illegal substance (Delamere, 2022).

Between March 2013 and March 2020, the number of adults reporting any drug use in the last year increased by 15% (Office for National Statistics, 2020).

Despite many believing alcohol or drugs such as cannabis to be harmless, these can have serious side effects such as dependency, increased risks of cancer and effects on decision making, which can lead to people deciding to drive while under the influence.


New Year – New You

As the new year begins a key message that is promoted is reflection. It’s important to look back on past behaviours to grow and learn for the future. With this in mind, RTS are promoting reflection of past alcohol and drug use. By looking back over your drinking habits of the past year, you can evaluate whether you are overconsuming alcohol or using drugs and take the necessary steps to remedy the problem before it gets worse.

This doesn’t mean you have to go sober, unless that works for you, just know your limits and drink in moderation. To help with this you can follow the NHS guidelines – no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 or more days (NHS, 2022). It’s never to late to stop or reduce your intake as continuing to overconsume alcohol or use drugs can have dangerous consequences, such as developing an addiction or poor decision making.


Driving under the influence

According to research from DrinkAware, UK drivers overconsume alcohol by around 61% (two-thirds) over the festive period. The same research also found that people who are likely to drink also feel pressured into overconsumption due to more time spent with work-colleagues, through work parties and more. This research supports the RTS findings that people are more likely to over-indulge and in doing so, pose a greater risk to themselves, their work colleagues, and the general public.

This can have devastating consequences, such as drunk drivers accounting for 15% of RTA in 2020 (Gov.uk, 2022). Studies have found that you are 46% more likely to be at fault in road collisions, if you have 10mg alcohol per 100ml compared to 0ml (Brake, 2022).

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal BAC is 80mg per 100ml, in Scotland it’s 50mg per 100ml.



Developing an addiction is a risk of using drugs and alcohol.

Addiction can be hard to detect. Many users report feelings of shame and try to hide their use, however, there are signs that can be noticed over time.

A key sign to addiction can be not being able to control use. This can mean not being able to stop once you start using, how much you take or need to take to reach the same effect or the frequency.

When drugs or alcohol take precedence in their life over everything else, this can be over relationships, jobs, or health, or if someone carries on drinking and/or using despite negative consequences, can be signs of addiction.

Withdrawal from not using and/or drinking can show that someone has developed a physical dependence on a substance. If someone shows symptoms of withdrawal, such as shaking, tremors, shivering, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and/or restlessness, this can indicate they have developed a dependence, and may need to seek medical help to stop.

Alcohol can also have consequences on employment. It’s estimated alcohol causes 3 – 5% of absences from work, and in Northern Ireland, this is estimated to cost businesses £2.38m a year (AlcoholChange, 2022). Other than absences, alcohol in the workplace can also cause loss of productivity, lateness, safety concerns and bad behaviour.


It’s important for businesses to have policies in place to rely on if the situation ever arises for drug and alcohol testing. For help setting up a drug and alcohol testing policy please email us at testingservices@randox.com or visit our website for more information.


About Us

Randox Testing Services are a specialist drug and alcohol testing company working in both the workplace and medico-legal sectors. We operate across the UK and Ireland, with a global network of trained collection officers. We have a wide variety of drugs we test for to meet your needs.


If you’re interested in getting assistance or to learn more about implementing an effective testing policy, contact us:

E-mail: testingservices@randox.com

Phone: +44 (0) 28 9445 1011



Office for National Statistics (2018) Adult drinking habits in Great Britain. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk

Manor Clinic (2020) Drug addiction statistics in the UK. Available at: https://www.themanorclinic.com/blog

Delamere (2022) UK Drug Addiction Report. Available at: https://delamere.com/blog

Office for National Statistics (2020) Drug misuse in England and Wales: year ending March 2020. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk

DrinkAware (2019) New study finds tis the season for peak drinking and hangovers. Available at: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/news

Brake (2022) DRINK DRIVING. Available at: https://www.brake.org.uk/

Alcoholchange (2022) Alcohol statistics. Available at: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts