More than half a million Bulgarians are addicted to alcohol and almost half of these drink in such quantities that their health is at risk, according to report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on drinking habits worldwide.
About 36 per cent of Bulgarian men who drink indulge in heavy episodic drinking, which WHO defines as an episode of consuming more than 60g of alcohol in the past 30 days.
Bulgaria was among countries with a relatively high number of years lost because of premature death caused by alcohol-related diseases, according to the WHO report.
The WHO report covered 194 countries, and the section on Bulgaria drew on official data from 2003 to 2012.
In the period 2003 to 2005, Bulgarians aged over 15 years drank an average of 11.6 litres of hard liquor a year. This amount decreased marginally during the next three years, from 2008 to 2010, to 11.4 l litres.
Taking account of episodic drinking, the real amount that regular users of alcohol consumed at home was 16.9 litres a year.
Among Bulgarians, 12 per cent of men drinkers had alcohol abuse disorders and 6.4 per cent were alcohol dependent. Among women, the figures were 2.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.
In 2010, alcohol consumption in Bulgaria was 44 per cent spirits, 39 per cent beer and 17 per cent wine, ratios similar to Albania, Hungary, Slovakia and Cyprus, while in Western Europe, the proportions were different with wine and beer more popular among drinkers.
According to the WHO report, in 2010 7.7 per cent of Bulgarian men were lifetime abstainers from alcohol. For women, the figure was 21 per cent.
(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian/sxc.hu)