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Alcohol Abuse Rates in European Countries

Alcohol Abuse Rates in European CountriesAccording to any World Health Organization (WHO) report from the last several years, Europe has the highest alcohol-consumption rate in the world. In 2011, the UK’s Daily Mail cited several of the WHO’s statistics, including the following:

  • The average American drinker consumes 9.4 liters of pure alcohol per year
  • The typical UK drinker consumes 15.5 liters (equal to about 1000 whiskey shots)
  • Russian drinkers average 27 liters (equal to 1350 beer pints and 90 vodka bottles)

According to the organization’s European Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2010, the tangible cost that arises from alcohol’s negative impact equals 1.3% of the European Union’s gross domestic product.

European Alcohol Use

Most European nations drink heavily, but preferences generally differ by geographic region. San Diego residents might be interested to learn that the predominant drinks are unofficially categorized by “belts,” which include the following:

  • Vodka Belt – Eastern nations (usually with cold winters) like Russia, Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics, and the Nordic states.
  • Wine Belt – Mediterranean and Adriatic countries like Italy, France, Spain, Greece, and Croatia usually with wine-growing regions.
  • Beer Belt – Countries with barely- and hops-growing traditions like Ireland, U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark.

The Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) in the UK looked at European alcohol use and found a connection between perception and abuse. The non-profit’s online report Social and Cultural Aspects of Drinking details the impact, which includes the following:

  • Countries that view alcohol as negative have more alcohol-related problems
  • Cultures that treat drinking as a shift from “work to play” have higher abuse rates
  • Fewer alcohol-related problems exist for countries with a neutral or positive view
  • Cultures that treat alcohol as part of daily life have lower abuse rates

Alcohol abuse can happen anywhere, but as San Diego residents can see from these statistics, the problem is significant in certain European countries.

Alcohol Abuse in Europe

The aforementioned European Status Report on Alcohol and Health provides in-depth data on the continent’s drinking habits, including the following:

  • Ireland has the highest male binge-drinking rate at 43%
  • The Muslim country of Bosnia has the lowest at just 2%
  • 20% of Europeans 15 years and older engage in heavy episodic drinking
  • The minimum drinking age for spirits is 18 years in 75% of Europe
  • Italy, Cyprus, and Malta are among the countries with lower age minimums

The WHO report also cited the 2009 study “What is the evidence of the impact of the economic crisis on mental health?” Within the European Union, San Diego residents will be shocked to learn that the study suggests a 3% increase in unemployment can increase alcohol abuse-related deaths by 28%. While consumption per capita increases with wealth, the WHO found that alcohol-related health issues increase with poverty. According to 2002 data on 20- to 64-year-olds, the organization estimates that alcohol is 25% responsible for the life expectancy differences between western and eastern European men. There are several potential reasons for this, including the following:

  • Homemade spirits make up 48% of the consumption in low-income countries
  • Less-wealthy countries (like many in Eastern Europe) consume less but binge-drink more
  • Consuming unregulated spirits and binge drinking dramatically increase safety risks

Another reason for this difference is the wider availability of quality rehabilitation programs in more developed European countries. It is a reminder to all San Diego residents that alcoholism occurs around the world, and regardless of the native tongue, addiction treatment remains the most effective way to get clean.

Alcoholism Help Now

Our addiction counselors are available 24 hours a day on our toll-free helpline. They can answer any questions you might have, including options for Americans from San Diego to get treatment in Europe and for Europeans to get treatment in the US. We can also check health insurance policies for treatment, so please call now.