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Survey reveals over a third of 18-26s do not drink: Is the drinking culture changing?

31st July 2016 Print

There's a popular perception that young adults down alcohol more frequently than any other demographic. However, a recent survey has revealed that they might not be as far from the rest of the population in their drinking practices as long thought. Are more 18-26s turning their backs on alcohol?

Eye-opening figures that fly in the face of stereotypes

For this recent survey, carried out by Blu Nightlife, about 35% of respondents aged from 18 to 26 claimed that they routinely resist drinking alcohol. One-in-three seems like a significant proportion, especially given that many members of this demographic will be in their university years, during which avid drinking can seem a fairly standard part of life.

18-26s still, it seems, drink more commonly than the average member of the UK's adult population; according to the survey, about 44% of this population are teetotallers. However, has there long been a third of young adults regularly averting the drink to little notice by the press and public, or would it be more accurate to say that alcohol has gradually been losing its appeal to 18-26s over a lengthy period of time?

No alcohol please, we're British

Close scrutiny of figures over time suggest that the latter could paint the truer picture - and, indeed, more and more people across a broader age spectrum could be converting to teetotalism. About a year ago, The Guardian reported figures from the Office for National Statistics indicating that 21% - more than one-in-five - of adults did not consume alcohol. The news outlet added that this figure was 19% in 2005.

Furthermore, it seemed that the main reason for the rise in this figure was an increasing preference for the alcohol-free life among young adults aged 16 to 24. The proportion of such adults claiming that they did not drink alcohol rose by over 40% from 2005 to 2013.

London's calling... but not drinking

However, it seems that attraction to alcohol could still be holding strong in various areas outside London. According to the ONS figures, whereas 32% of adults in the capital claimed to be teetotal, this figure fell to 25% in the West Midlands, 22% in Wales and 21% in Scotland. Therefore, a closer look at, and breakdown of, drinking practices could reveal not only to what extent the drinking culture is changing, but also how and why.

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