Hazardous alcohol drinking in the former soviet union: A cross-sectional study of eight countries

Joceline Pomerleau, Martin Mckee, Richard Rose, Christian W. Haerpfer, David Rotman, Sergej Tumanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Hazardous consumption of large quantities of alcohol is a major cause of ill-health in the former Soviet Union (fSU). The objective of this study was to describe episodic heavy drinking and other hazardous drinking behaviors in eight countries of the fSU. Methods: Data from national surveys of adults conducted in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine in 2001 were used (overall sample size 18,428; response rates 71-88%). Heavy episodic drinking, high alcohol intake, drinking alcohol during the working day, and using illegally produced strong spirits were examined. Results: On average, 23% of men and 2% of women were defined as heavy episodic drinkers (≥2 l of beer or ≥750 g bottle of wine or ≥200 g strong spirits at least once every 2-3 weeks). This was more common in young males, women who are single or who are divorced/ separated/widowed, in smokers, and in frequent alcohol drinkers. About half the respondents who drank strong spirits obtained at least some alcohol from private sources. Among drinkers, 11% of males and 7% of women usually took their first drink before the end of working day. Conclusions: Heavy episodic alcohol drinking is frequent in males throughout the region - although prevalence rates may have been affected by underreporting - but is still relatively rare in women. Alcohol policies in the region should address hazardous drinking patterns and the common use of illegally produced alcohol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-359
Number of pages9
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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