SPREADING OUT OR CONCENTRATING WEEKLY CONSUMPTION: ALCOHOL PROBLEMS AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES WITHIN A UK POPULATION SAMPLE


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Abstract

AimsTo consider the consequences, within a UK population sample, of consuming a given amount of alcohol weekly in one or two sessions as against spreading it out over several sessions.MethodsA new analysis of data from the UK components of the GENACIS survey of adults aged ≥18, was carried out.ResultsAt low levels of weekly alcohol consumption those subjects whose usual drinking frequency was several times per week (‘spreaders’), if anything, reported more alcohol problems than those who consumed alcohol only once or twice per week (‘bingers’). As weekly consumption increased above ∼11 units per week ‘bingers’ began to experience more problems than ‘spreaders’. At the highest levels of consumption ‘bingers’ reported more positive experiences from drinking than did ‘spreaders’. Subjects >54 years showed lower levels of weekly alcohol consumption than other subjects, and relationships between problems, drinking level, and drinking pattern were less in evidence. Females drank less alcohol and experienced fewer alcohol-related problems than did their male counterparts. However, at high-consumption levels, female ‘bingers’ experienced fewer problems than male ‘bingers’.ConclusionsFor most but not all the variables studied, both drinking level and drinking pattern are important determinants of problems experienced. Binge drinking for people who drink more than ∼11 units per week is an obvious target for harm minimization.

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