350,000 Austrians are alcoholics

Five percent of all Austrians – 350,000 people above the age of 16 – are addicted to alcohol. According to a current survey of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), this meant direct medical costs of around 375 million Euros in 2011.

Indirect costs of chronic diseases like early retirement, absence from work etc. are believed to be even more, Thomas Czypionka, author of the survey, stated in a press conference in Vienna yesterday (Thurs).

“We can take from epidemiological studies that a quarter of men and every tenth woman are above the harmful limit (…) This is especially significant with middle-aged people. In the course of their life, ten percent of Austrians become addicted to alcohol. Five percent are (currently) addicted”, Mr Czypionka said.

There are 350,000 affected people, which shows that this form of addiction is ten times more serious than drug consumption. The expert emphasises that illegal drug consumption is the problem of a relatively small group.

In contrast, alcohol with a limit of 40 grams per day for women and 60 grams per day for men (20 grams of alcohol is like half a litre of beer or quarter of a litre of wine) affects a wider group of people.

The IHS survey team wants to calculate the indirect costs of alcohol addiction until summer. Mr Czypionka said that prevention and more offers of treatment for people with mental problems, which can lead to alcohol addiction, would be necessary.

Austria is in third place in the OECD ranking of alcohol consumption (after France and Portugal). Austrians consume 12 litres of pure alcohol per capita per year. Seven percent of car accidents and ten percent of casualties in these accidents are caused by alcohol.