What Country has the Highest Rate of Alcoholism

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 11/15/2021

Alcohol is used around the world and an estimated 107 million people suffer from alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). Studies also show that alcohol use is on the rise and there has been a 30% uptick in alcohol usage around the world. While drinking alcohol in moderation doesn't cause many problems, frequently consuming alcohol leads to conditions like alcoholism. 

1. Belarus 

Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. The country is officially the Republic of Belarus and is bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. That said, Belarus shares a similar democratic system as Western European nations and enjoys a separation of powers among branches of the government.

Belarus is top on this list of how much alcohol the population consumes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Belarus has one of the highest rates of drinking, and 40.5% of males and 12.2% of females experience episodes of heavy drinking. Belarus is also known for consuming large amounts of alcohol. Men consume an average of 22.8 liters of alcohol and women consume 7.9 liters of alcohol. In fact, 2% of the country's population is considered to be alcoholics.

In Belarus, the problem stems from policies and social problems that date back to the Soviet Union. With rates of income declining people continue to turn to alcohol. While Belarus is making anti-alcohol laws a policy priority, it's hard to tell how well these policies will work.

2. Republic of Moldova 

The Republic of Moldova is a country located in Eastern Europe. The terrain of the nation includes forests, mountains, and hills. That said, the Republic of Moldova is famous because of its vast vineyards and wineries. The Republic of Moldova also used to be a part of the Soviet Union but became its own nation when the Union collapsed in the 1990s.

Still, the Republic of Moldova was left with alcohol problems. Like most Slavic nations, the Republic of Moldova has alarming alcohol problems and statistics. The country is unique because the problems stem from wines produced at home. This is based on data from WHO that suggests 60% of alcohol consumption isn't reported and the main contribution to that 60% is homemade wines. The Republic of Moldova also has a higher rate of alcoholism in men compared to women, similar to Belarus and other Slavic nations.

3. Lithuania 

Lithuania is a Baltic country that has access to the Baltic Sea. The country shares borders with Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Latavia. Lithuania used to be a part of the Soviet Union until it collapsed at the end of the 20th century. The nation is famous for its dense forests and beautiful lakes and marshes.

Lithuania has alarming alcohol-related statistics. Surveys conducted in the country reveal that men over the age of 15 consumed 11.4 liters of alcohol. In Lithuania beer is the drink of choice with 44% of all consumer alcohol being beer. That said, the nation also consumes high amounts of wine and spirits. The average Lithuanian consumes one large glass of beer, a big glass of wine, or a shot of liquor at least once per day. That rate of alcohol consumption is among the highest and indicative of an alcoholism issue within the country.

4. Russian Federation 

Russia is the largest nation in the world and has land stretching through Eastern Europe and Asia. The country has been around for centuries and leadership has changed hands throughout history. The Russian Federation used to be known as the Soviet Union, which controlled satellite nations like Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, and other Eastern European nations.

The Russian Federation has some of the highest drinking rates in the world. The average Russian citizen consumes 15.76 liters of alcohol, which is the fourth-highest in Europe. Russia also has alarming statistics because of its high rates of binge drinking and abundance of high-volume spirits. Moreover, the alcohol problem in Russia has been going on for decades. The Russian government makes a lot of its tax revenue through alcohol and drinking has become a part of the culture in Russia.

5. Romania 

Romania is a Southeastern country in Europe. The country has many preserved historical monuments including medieval towns, castles, and statues. Romania is also well-known for its forested regions, one of which being the famous Transylvania. That said, Romania is a nice place to visit and live in modern times.

That said, Romania does suffer from high rates of alcoholism. In fact, 1.3% of the population suffers from alcohol dependence. According to WHO Romania has one of the highest rates of alcohol per capita among men, with men consuming 26.2 liters of alcohol. Plus, 53% of males have experienced episodes of heavy drinking. Part of the problem for Romania is how much alcohol the younger generations consume. People between the ages of 18 and 24 spend 17 times more on alcohol than other social activities. 

When young people consume that much alcohol the risk factors for becoming an alcoholic increase, which is one of the reasons the alcohol consumption rate is so high in Romania.

6. Ukraine 

Ukraine is the second-largest nation in Europe and shares a border with the biggest nation in Europe, Russia. Ukraine has shared a lot of controversy and conflict with Russia between military conflicts, nuclear disasters, and infighting. That said, the nation remains safe to travel to because of strong security measures.

Ukraine, like Russia, suffers from an alcohol endemic. According to WHO, Ukraine accounts for the highest amount of "years of life lost" due to drinking. People in Ukraine also consume 13.8 liters of pure alcohol per person (male and female), which is higher than in other Slavic countries. 

The high rate of alcoholism in Ukraine stems from the instability caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the increased aggression by Russia on its borders. Furthermore, income rates in Ukraine aren't great compared to other European nations, which also plays a role.

7. Andorra 

Andorra is a small country located between France and Spain. The country has tax-haven status, which makes it a popular destination for shopping, travel, and vacations. The nation is also known for its ski resorts, mountains, and beautiful scenery.

While Andorra is a nice place to travel, its alcohol consumption rates are dangerous. People in Andorra consume 15.5 liters of alcohol per capita, which is on par with many Slavic nations further East. In Adorra, the drink of choice is wine, with 44% of alcohol consumption coming from wine. The reason for the high rate of alcohol consumption in Andorra stems from its destination as a travel destination and tax haven.

8. Hungary 

Hungary is a landlocked nation located in Central Europe. It's not the biggest country in Europe but it has a population of about 10 million. Hungary used to be known as Austria-Hungary before World War 1 but collapsed shortly after the war. After World War II Hungary became a satellite state for the Soviet Union and became the People's Republic of Hungary. Today, Hungary is a member of alliances like NATO and operates with a democracy similar to those found in Europe and the United States.

Hungary is also a country that has a high rate of drinking. After suffering heavy damages in World War I, World War II, and during the collapse of the Soviet Union, people in Hungary turned to drink. The nation has dangerous water drinking with an alcohol consumption per capita rate of 11.4 liters per person (male and female). That said, Hungary has one of the highest drinking rates among its youth population. Among the younger generations binge drinking is popular and 61.3% of youths binge drink.

9. the Czech Republic 

The Czech Republic is a landlocked nation located in Central Europe. The country used to be called Bohemia when it was a state within the Holy Roman Empire. The Czech Republic has also changed hands a few times over the years, which is one of the reasons the rate of alcohol consumption is so high. The nation was taken by Nazi Germany in 1945 but then became a part of the Eastern Bloc communist state. While this is no longer the case today, these are the many factors that tie into the high rate of alcoholism among the Czech population.

According to WHO, 16.7% of the adult population consumes dangerous levels of alcohol. Moreover, 9.1% of the adult population drinks enough alcohol to cause physical and mental harm. The nation has rates of drinking on par with other former Soviet Union nations and continues to have some of the highest alcohol rates in the world.

10. Slovakia 

Slovakia (Slovak Republic) is a Central European country that's landlocked. It borders Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Austria. After World War II the country became part of the Soviet Union as a satellite state and became a communist nation. Once the Soviet Union collapsed the nation transitioned to democracy and privatized its industries.

That said, Slovakia struggles with alcoholism and alcoholism-related health problems. 3.1% of the population admitted to drinking every day and 11.4% of the population admitted to binge drinking once a month. Furthermore, children from ages 11-14 have the some of highest drinking rates in the world and the education system is failing to turn students away from it.

When looking at the commonalities between these nations most of them have one thing in common. Each nation was either a satellite state of Russia when it was the Soviet Union or a part of the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed, and the economy with it, these nations struggled with low-income rates and high poverty levels. These factors continue to contribute to these nations' high rates of alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse.

What are the Factors of High-Level Alcoholism? 

Studies show that several factors like family history of alcoholism influence high levels of alcohol abuse. According to genetic research people who have genes that influence a GABA alteration in the brain have a higher risk of developing the condition.

That said, other factors also contribute to high levels of alcoholism and some can explain why Slavic countries struggle the most. These factors include high-stress levels, mental health disorders, trauma, and frequent drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), men and women who binge drink are at a higher risk to develop symptoms of alcoholism and alcohol dependence. Binge drinking is 5 drinks in less than 2 hours for men and 4 drinks in less than 2 hours for women.

What is the Age of Alcohol Consumption by Country? 

The legal drinking age for alcohol consumption varies by country. In most European nations the legal drinking age is below 21 years old.

Here are the drinking ages in nations with the most alcohol consumption:

  • Belarus: People over the age of 18 can legally drink alcohol

  • Republic of Moldova: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Moldova 

  • Lithuania: People over the age of 20 can legally drink in Lithuania 

  • Russian Federation: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Russia 

  • Romania: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Romania 

  • Ukraine: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Ukraine 

  • Andorra: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Andorra 

  • Hungary: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Hungary 

  • Czech Republic: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in the Czech Republic 

  • Slovakia: People over the age of 18 can legally drink in Slovakia 

Most European nations have drinking ages between 18 and 21.

Which Countries Have the Highest Death Rating by Alcohol? 

The highest death rating for alcohol consists of how many people have died (per 100,000) due to alcohol consumption.

The countries with the highest death rating by alcohol are:

  • El Salvador 

  • Russia 

  • Estonia 

  • Guatemala 

  • Mongolia 

  • Belarus 

  • Ukraine

  • Nicaragua 

  • Lithuania 

  • Latvia

Countries that suffer from high rates of alcohol-related death tend to suffer from poverty and lower standards of living than other nations.

In Which Countries is Alcohol Consumption the Highest by Females? 

Males consume more alcohol, on average than females. That said, some countries have high female alcohol consumption rates.

These countries are:

  • Australia 

  • Russia

  • Norway 

  • Columbia

  • Sweden  

  • Lithuania  

  • United States  

  • Belarus  

  • Canada  

  • United Kingdom 

In Which Countries is Alcohol Consumption the Highest by Males? 

Countries that have the highest rates of alcohol consumption in females are similar in alcohol consumption rates among men.

The countries with the most alcohol consumption for males are:

  • Russia 

  • Hungary 

  • Lithuania 

  • South Korea 

  • Latvia 

  • Belarus 

  • Estonia 

  • Niue 

  • Colombia 

  • Thailand

How Does Culture Affect Alcoholism?

Culture affects alcoholism by encouraging or rewarding people who drink in social settings and groups. It also affects alcoholism by preventing people getting treatment because they don't think they have a problem. 

Cultures that place partying and having fun drinking are also more likely to have people attempt to emulate that drinking culture. These factors can lead to binge drinking with friends, using drinks as a means to control mental conditions like anxiety, and using alcohol to hang out with friends. Slavic nations that leverage alcohol for its economic benefit are also more likely to use these cultural tactics, which is why they have the highest rates of alcohol consumption and alcoholism.

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Thomas Roth
Lead Editor

Thomas has been working in the substance abuse industry for over 3 years and he's made it his mission to help those in need. Tom started out by writing content to help people find addiction treatment centers near their location. Once he understood the value in the words he wrote Tom shifted to outreach, editing, and content creation. If nothing else, Tom wants to see those who struggle with Alcohol abuse disorder recover.