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Problem Drinking on the Rise in Iceland

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Problem Drinking on the Rise in Iceland

Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

Problem drinking is on the rise in Iceland, with 32% of men and 27% of women having consumed what is considered to dangerous amounts of alcohol in 2017, RÚV reports. These percentages are up two points from 2016. These findings were published in the most recent edition of Talnabrunnur, the newsletter published by the Directorate of Health.

The number of women aged 18 – 34 who drink to excess has increased around four percentage points, while the number of men aged 55 and older who engage in problem drinking has increased about three percentage points. The results show, however, that among individuals in other age groups, unhealthy drinking habits are decreasing.

Drinking to excess is still largely the province of younger people. 40% of men aged 18 – 34 were said to drink dangerous levels of alcohol, along with 42% of women in the same age group.

Four out of ten men said they drank until they became drunk once or more a month. 22% of women said the same. 52% of men aged 18 – 34 said they binge drank once or more a month, compared with 38% of women in the same age group.

“Three questions were used to measure alcohol consumption,” it was explained in the study. “First, we asked how often in the last 12 months the person had drunk at least one alcoholic drink. Second, we asked about binge drinking—i.e. how many times in the last 12 months the person had drunk at least five alcoholic drinks. Finally, we asked how many beverages the person drinks as a rule when consuming alcohol. In order to examine Icelanders’ harmful drinking patterns, the above questions were used to establish a metric. Risk levels are determined on a scale of 0 – 12, based on the frequency of alcohol consumption, the number of beverages, and the frequency of binge drinking. Men who score between 6 – 12 are considered to have a harmful drinking pattern, as are women who score a 5 – 12.

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