Half of all Britons drink heavily

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Nearly a half of all Britons drink so heavily they damage their relationships, their health, and jobs or careers, according to a new study.

Nearly a half of all Britons drink so heavily they damage their relationships, their health, and jobs or careers, according to a new study.

The nationwide survey of more than 2,000 adults also found that nearly as many women as men take part in binge drinking that leaves them incoherent, guilty about their behaviour and with financial problems.

The report, one of the most detailed into the nation's drinking and drug taking habits conducted, also confirms that alcohol abuse is a far more significant problem than drug use or even smoking in Britain.

About 1,800 of the 2,027 people interviewed said they drank alcohol, while only 741 smoked. Yet fewer than 240 people had used illegal drugs during the previous year. More than 90 of the 890 women who drank admitted that heavy drinking affected many aspects of their lives. With men, that figure reached 181. A further 27 women said they had been in drunken fights, compared to 99 men.

Exactly 400 women said they had experienced "negative impacts" from their drinking, compared to 507 men. Another 110 women and 245 men had memory loss.

Dr Martin Plant wrote the study with his wife Dr Moira Plant. They run the Alcohol and Health Research Centre at the University of the West of England in Bristol, and the survey was part of a study covering other European countries, Australia, Canada, the US, Japan and Nigeria.

Alcohol abuse, said Dr Plant, caused more than 20,000 deaths a year.

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