World Health Organisation: 2.3% of Bulgarians are alcohol-dependent

About 2.3 per cent of Bulgarians are alcohol-dependent and 6.9 per cent have alcohol use disorders, according to a report by the World Health Organisation.

By gender, there are substantial differences: among Bulgarian men, the percentage with alcohol dependence is 4.3 per cent while among women, it is 0.4 per cent, the WHO report said, citing figures for 2016.

The percentage of Bulgarian men with alcohol use disorders is 12.2 per cent while the percentage for women is 1.9 per cent.

In both cases, the rate is below the average for the WHO European region, where the percentage for alcohol use disorders is 8.8 per cent and for alcohol dependence is 3.7 per cent.

WHO calculated that in Bulgaria, the years of life lost due to alcohol consumption adds up to about four.

Alcohol consumption in Bulgaria is 43 per cent spirits, 39 per cent beer and 17 per cent wine, the WHO report said. The report also showed a slight increase in alcohol consumption in Bulgaria, comparing 2016 with 2010.

Males over 15 drink 26.6 litres pure alcohol per capita per annum and women drink 9.2 litres.

Among drinkers, heavy episodic drinking adds up to 65.9 per cent.

The WHO report said that more than three million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, according a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) today. This represents 1 in 20 deaths. More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than five per cent of the global disease burden.

“Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.”

Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21 per cent due to digestive disorders; 19 per cent due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions.

Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high, particularly in the European Region and the Region of Americas.

Globally an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence among men and women in the European region (14.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent) and the Region of Americas (11.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent). Alcohol-use disorders are more common in high-income countries.

An estimated 2.3 billion people are current drinkers. Alcohol is consumed by more than half of the population in three WHO regions – the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific. Europe has the highest per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption has decreased by more than 10 per cent since 2010. Current trends and projections point to an expected increase in global alcohol per capita consumption in the next 10 years, particularly in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions and the Region of the Americas.

The average daily consumption of people who drink alcohol is 33 grams of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to two glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots (each of 40 ml) of spirits.

Worldwide, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all 15–19-year-olds are current drinkers. Rates of current drinking are highest among 15–19-year-olds in Europe (44 per cent), followed by the Americas (38 per cent) and the Western Pacific (38 per cent).

School surveys indicate that, in many countries, alcohol use starts before the age of 15 with very small differences between boys and girls.

Worldwide, 45 per cent of total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits. Beer is the second alcoholic beverage in terms of pure alcohol consumed (34 per cent) followed by wine (12 per cent). Worldwide there have been only minor changes in preferences of alcoholic beverages since 2010. The largest changes took place in Europe, where consumption of spirits decreased by three per cent whereas that of wine and beer increased.

In contrast, more than half (57 per cent, or 3.1 billion people) of the global population aged 15 years and over had abstained from drinking alcohol in the previous 12 months, the WHO report said.

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.