Younger legal-age drinkers in the UK are more likely to binge or consume at high-risk levels in comparison to the rest of the population, even as the rate of abstinence is increasing, a study claims.

A report from Drinkaware, a UK charity aimed at reducing alcohol harm, said 79% of adults in the country aged between 18 and 24 still consume alcohol but found they were twice as likely to drink at high-risk or possible dependent levels compared to the rest of the population.

The rate at which young UK adults were choosing not to partake in alcoholic beverages rose from 14% in 2017 to 21% in 2023, the report said.

Drinkaware’s research surveyed 5,213 people aged between 18 to 24 over a six-year period.

“It is really encouraging to see more young adults choosing not to drink and those that do, drink less often. These positive trends are welcome but we must be careful that they don’t mask some of the more concerning drinking behaviours that still exist. Young people are still more likely to binge drink than other age groups and suffer from memory loss and depression, linked to their drinking,” Drinkaware CEO Karen Tyrell said.

Governments have actively been looking to reduce alcohol consumption. Earlier this year, the UK introduced a new tax regime that makes lower-abv beverages more appealing to brew. Canada issued new guidance into alcohol in January that warned “any amount of alcohol is not good”.

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Tryell added: “We must ensure that young people’s drinking habits are not ignored, and they are properly addressed as part of any new alcohol strategy. We need to normalise conversations around alcohol, making it easier for people to speak up and get help if they are worried about their own or others drinking.”