Drunkenness and Preference for Spirits in Different Countries

  • H. Schmid


Objective. International studies show a rise in drunkenness over the last years among young people. In this study the number of drunkenness occasions among 15-year old students in 22 countries is reported. The cross-national association between drunkenness and the preference for spirits is described. Variation between countries is examined on the basis of their drinking cultures.

Method. Data on alcohol use were taken from the 1998 World Health Organization (WHO) collaborative, cross-national survey on Health Behaviour of School-aged Children (HBSC). The multi-national representative sample consisted of 10,951 male and 11,451 female (drinking) students.

Results. The lifetime prevalence of drunkenness was 57.1% for males and 50.4% for females. The number of drunkenness occasions showed a significant variation in the 22 countries. The correlation between drunkenness and preference for spirits was positive in 21 countries and strong (Spearman’s rho > .40) in some eastern countries. Geographic location turned out to be an important country level association with drunkenness and its predictors. Southern European countries showed moderate relations, whereas strong relations were found in Scandinavia, the Baltic countries and Russia.

Conclusions. Cultural differences in alcohol use exist and the use of spirits influences drunkenness. Regulation and restriction of spirits access to young people may be important to prevent drunkenness.

Key words

alcohol drunkenness spirits adolescents international 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Schmid
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems (SIPA)LausanneSwitzerland

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