Dramatic increase in women alcoholics

Alcoholism among women in Sweden increased by 50 percent to 100,000 between 2003 and 2007, a new report from the National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsöinstitutet) has shown.

The number of men classified as alcoholics has increased by 25 percent to 165,000 over the period, the study shows.

Sven Andréasson, chief physician at Stockholm’s addiction centre and head of the institute’s alcohol and narcotics department, gave his view of the reasons behind the development in a full-page opinion article in Dagens Nyheter on Saturday.

“Alcohol taxes have been cut, private imports have increased, the number of restaurant alcohol licences has increased, (and) opening hours have been extended at both restaurants and state liquor stores.”

“It is well known that the concentration of licences premises and opening hours have a significant effect on violence and other alcohol related problems,” he argued.

The study was conducted from 2003-2007 in 12 municipalities across Sweden. It showed that alcoholism had increased despite the fact that total alcohol consumption has remained unchanged for several years.

“A historical parallel can be drawn to when the ration book was abolished. Among those that already drank a lot the greater access led to significantly greater consumption than among other consumers,” Andréasson wrote.

Andréasson noted that while overall alcohol consumption in Sweden had remained stable in recent years, the number of alcohol poisonings, alcohol-related violence and drink driving cases were on the rise.

The conflict of interest between the hospitality and retail industries, and public health is given the responsibility for the alcoholism trend.

Andréason argues that the adverse health effects of alcohol abuse can be limited by tightening up licensing regulations and the monitoring of drunkenness at restaurants and bars, and to work to increase support for the state monopoly retailer Systembolaget.