For a significant and growing number of people in the UK, alcohol consumption is a major cause of ill health. It is estimated that more than 10 million people (31% of men and 20% of women) are regularly drinking above the guidelines set by Government and that many of these individuals are likely to suffer ill health or injury as a result. 

In 2008, The Department of Health estimated that alcohol misuse costs the health service in the order of £2.7 billion per year while the total cost of alcohol misuse to the UK economy has been calculated by the Cabinet Office to be in the order of £25.1 billion.

Alcohol use has been associated with a wide range of both physical and social problems, including physical health problems such as cancer and heart disease; offending behaviour including domestic violence, child abuse and child neglect; mental health problems including deliberate self-harm and problems of chronic social deprivation including homelessness.