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Workers more likely to have a drink
Workers are much more likely to drink than those who are unemployed, according to new figures.
UK data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows 65% of workers surveyed in 2012 had at least one drink in the previous week, compared to 48% of those who were not working.
Overall, the number of people aged 16 and over who drink has been falling in recent years. Between 2005 and 2012, the proportion of men who drank alcohol in the week before being interviewed fell from 72% to 64%, while for women it fell from 57% to 52%.
The overall numbers who admit to drinking at least five days a week has also been dropping, from 22% to 14% among men and from 13% to 9% among women.
But almost a quarter of men over 65 (23%) in 2012 admitted drinking frequently, as did 14% of women in this age group.
Young people aged 16 to 24 were most likely to have drunk very heavily (more than 12 units for men and nine units for women) at least once during the previous week. More than a quarter (27%) did so, with similar figures for men (26%) and women (28%).
In 2012, 11% of all adults were frequent drinkers - meaning they drank on five or more days a week.
Some 6.3% of 16 to 24-year-olds were frequent drinkers, increasing to 18% of those aged 65 and over.
Department of Health figures estimate that the effects of alcohol cost the NHS in England around £3.5 billion a year.
Today's figures showed that those aged 16 to 24 were least likely to have drunk in the last week (49%), while those aged 45 to 64 (65%) were most likely.
When 16 and 17-year-olds were excluded from the data, there was no difference in drinking habits between those aged 18 to 24 and those aged 65 and over.
The data also showed that smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers (25% versus 11%) to have been drinking very heavily at least once during the previous week, regardless of the amount they smoked.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is encouraging to see that levels of binge-drinking are decreasing amongst adults. This highlights the importance not just of raising awareness but also ensuring that the right services are available to the people that need them.
"We are helping the NHS target harmful drinkers with measures such as increasing the use of interventions by health professionals, and introducing alcohol liaison nurses in A&E.
"However, there must also be more focus on prevention, not just treatment for those with existing problems. That is why alcohol is addressed by GPs as part of the NHS health check."
Elaine Hindal, chief executive of industry-funded charity Drinkaware, said: "There's an interesting dynamic between alcohol consumption and the negative health effects of alcohol. While it appears that people are drinking less overall, there is still a trend of heavy, episodic drinking among younger groups, and many over-45s say they drink on five or more days in the week.
"There is a paradox between the groups who drink heavily and those disproportionately at risk of harm from alcohol. Although those who are less well- off report drinking less, we know that they are at more risk of alcohol-related harm. This may be because they are more likely to have poorer health overall."