Drinkers in the UK get drunk more often than anywhere else in the world, a study has found.
Brits binge drink almost once a week on average according to global polling of almost 130,000 people across 36 countries.
The 2019 Global Drug Survey looked at the recreational drug and alcohol and is the largest such survey in the world.
Britons reported getting drunk an average of 51.1 times in a 12-month period.
English speaking countries led the way for how often their citizens get drunk, with the USA, Canada and Australia closely following the UK at the top of the global rankings.
The study comes amid an overall downward trend of drinking levels in the UK, with abstention on the rise, particularly amongst young adults.
The author said that while fewer people in the UK were drinking, many who were are drinking a lot.
Professor Adam Winstock, consultant psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist, said: “We get told too much is bad, and it is, but current guidelines fail to accept the pleasure of intoxication and give little guide on difference between being a little drunk and a lot drunk, and doing it 3-4 times a year versus weekly.
“We need to have that conversation. In the UK we don’t tend to do moderation, we end up getting drunk as the point of the evening.”
Researchers based in London surveyed 5,400 people from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and more than 120,000 online between October 29 and December 30 last year.
It is the eighth annual report.
Office for National Statitics data shows a total of 7,697 people died from alcohol-specific causes in the UK in 2017.
The rate of 12.2 deaths per 100,000 population was the highest since since 2008.
Deaths from drink-related liver disease among 45-54-year-olds in England have continued to rise between 1993 and 2017.
Researchers believe it may be time to introduce guidelines on how to get drunk safely.
They said reach binge drinkers may currently see upper limits as “irrelevant”.
Prof Winstock added: “Until culture changes and we become more European and moderate in our drinking, we might have to bite the bullet and think about how to advise people to get drunk drinking less.
“Getting drunk carries risks of injury and health harm, but we need to start highlighting the risks at different levels of drinking even if they are above safe limits.”
Current NHS guidelines say there is no “safe” level of drinking and that men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis – around six pints of beer.
A spokeswoman for industry body the Alcohol Information Partnership, said: “This report runs contrary to the vast weight of the data.
“Major reports by globally-respected organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the ONS have consistently shown that drinking in the UK has been falling for more than a decade and Brits are actually drinking less than many of our European neighbours.
“The industry remains committed to tackling harmful drinking.
“The evidence shows that the way people drink in the UK is changing with people increasingly choosing fewer, better quality drinks, which is a positive move in the right direction.”
Third of women ‘taken advantage of when drunk’
More than a third of women who took part in the survey reported being taken advantage of sexually while drunk or high.
The majority of the incidents took place in a private home by someone known to the person, the 2019 global drugs survey found.
Some 29% of women said they had been taken advantage of, with 8% saying it had taken place in the last 12 months.
Almost all respondents who said this happened within the previous year did not report the incident to police. Four in 10 said they did not because they felt partly responsible.
Researcher Alexandra Aldridge said people can feel reluctant to use the words “sexual assault” because they may believe their experience is less valid if they are intoxicated.
She said: “Our findings really show that we need to move away from victim blaming, telling women to change their behaviour clearly can only go so far in preventing sexual assaults.”
“People are feeling responsible in some way for their actions, and I think a lot of people who experience harassment or being taken advantage of can really relate to that.”
A spokeswoman for industry body the Alcohol Information Partnership said: “Violence and harmful behaviour of any kind is inexcusable.
“We will always support any targeted initiatives which can help prevent such issues from occurring due to harmful drinking.
This survey suggests that we as a society have a long way to go, but robust recent data clearly indicates we are on the right track.”