The alcohol industry in the UK persists to thrive, major thanks to their biggest customers: problem drinkers who get poorer from health costs and continued alcohol purchases.

Experts blame the industry for posing irresponsible prices and marketing strategies.

In England alone, alcohol sales are estimated at about £23.7 billion or $33.8 billion.

"There's no doubt that the drinks industry depends on excessive drinking to drive its profits," says Ian Gilmore, chairman of Alcohol Health Alliance, which is composed of over 40 concerned organizations.

Nick Sheron of Southampton University and colleagues discovered that 69 percent of the total alcohol consumed in a Public Health England survey was accounted for hazardous and harmful drinkers. Sheron is a co-founder of Alcohol Health Alliance.

He further says that out of the said number, 38 percent of these drinkers exceed the alcohol intake limits set by previous guidelines which is 14 units per week for women and 21 for men.

The remaining percentage belongs to harmful drinkers who consume over 35 units of alcohol for women and 50 in men. The addiction of these people are said to most likely cause liver disorders such as cirrhosis.

About 10.8 million individuals drink at risky levels and approximately 1.6 million are probably alcohol dependent, estimates Public Health England.

As a result, over one million hospitalizations in a year are connected to alcohol. Such number is twice the finding 10 years ago. From 2013 to 2014, NHS spent about £3.5 billion or $5 billion, says Public Health England.

In a paper published in 2015, Sheron and colleagues found that harmful drinkers confined in a liver treatment unit consumed high amounts of cheap alcohol. Men drank 146 units while women had 142 units for a median price of 33p/unit. The researchers then suggest that raising the minimum price of alcohol to 50p/unit would impact the heaviest drinkers the most.

The Statistics on Alcohol Report 2015 by the UK government's Health and Social Information states that the total alcohol purchased for home consumption increased from 527 milliliters in 1992 to 792 milliliters in 2003-2004.

In 2012, each person had a weekly consumption of 700 milliliters, which is 33 percent higher than in 1992.

The highest alcohol consumption was noted in Yorkshire and the Humber, where each person drank 874 milliliters per week.

Photo: Julie Corsi | Flickr

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