The effect alcohol can have on our society has been prominent in the headlines over recent years, and as we face a drug addiction crisis globally, the problems alcohol can cause is also being highlighted more and more.
Alcohol addiction is still a huge problem in many parts of the world. In fact, around three million deaths each year come as a result of the harmful use of alcohol, a total of 5.3% of all deaths yearly.
But, while alcohol rehab numbers are up, the World Health Organisation is also showing that consumption per person across Europe is actually down, reducing by half a litre between 2010 and 2020, and around three litres per person over the past 40 years.
The pandemic may have altered that figure slightly, with reports widely suggesting that alcohol consumption significantly rose, but generally speaking people are more aware of the harm the substance can cause. But where in Europe is alcohol consumption at its highest?
Interesingly, adults in Latvia drink half a litre of pure alcohol more per year compared to anywhere else in the continent, and around two and a half litres more per year than those living in the UK, as well as Latvia compared to a decade previous.
The problem hasn’t gone unnoticed by authorities in the country, with members of the Latvian Saeima putting forward proposals that further limits the sale times of alcohol in order to try and limit the damage it is causing.
Czechia has long been a nation known for its pilsners, so it’s perhaps no surprise to see that residents of the country are among the biggest drinkers. The average person drinks 11.6 litres of alcohol per year, up 0.2 litres on 10 years previous.
The cost of alcohol is a big reason for this, with many people flocking to the likes of Prague where pints of beer can cost as little as £2.
Lithuania is starting to get more of a handle on the problems alcohol is causing to many of its residents, with the last decade seeing the average person drop from drinking 13.5 litres of alcohol per year, the highest of any country to 11.4 litres, a significant drop.
Alcohol control policies have played a big part in that, with the government bringing into place a number of laws, including increasing the legal drinking age from 18 to 20 and cutting the hours in which alcohol can be sold in shops.
The Austrian government has also been able to cut the volume of alcohol an adult is drinking yearly to 11.3 litres, a drop of almost a litre over the decade but still the fourth highest of any European nation.
Austria’s relationship with alcohol is an interesting one, with love for beer seemingly high. So much so that the Beer Party actually polled well in the Vienna state election late last year, promising the likes of a beer fountain in the Austrian capital.
Bulgaria completes the top five, having seen alcohol consumption increase by 1.4 litres per person between 2010 and 2020. Interestingly, the country has one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe, while there’s also not a minimum legal age for consumption of alcohol behind closed doors.