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Every fifth German has a drinking problem
Youngsters enjoy themselves at Nuremberg's 'Rock in the Park'. Photo: DPA

Every fifth German has a drinking problem

Published: 26 Apr 2011 18:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Apr 2011 18:25 GMT+02:00

Germans are smoking less but still drinking too much, according to the German Centre for Addiction Issues. Launching the centre's Annual Addiction Report 2011 in Berlin on Tuesday, director Raphael Gaßmann, estimated one in five people aged 18 to 64 had a drinking problem.

“Alcohol consumption remains conspicuously too high, too risky, with too many consequences,” he said.

The report, a compilation of figures from 2009, showed that although the average amount of booze consumed, measured in pure alcohol, did fall slightly compared with 2008, it was too negligible to have any health benefit, Gaßmann said.

Moreover, the effects of binge drinking have become noticeably worse in recent years. The number of alcohol poisoning incidents climbed by nearly 112 percent between 2000 and 2009. Most disturbingly, such incidents rose 194 percent among people aged 20 to 25.

The results on binge drinking were “dramatic,” Gaßmann said.

The deaths of 73,000 people aged 35 to 65 could be traced back to “alcohol-related health problems” each year, which is about one fifth of all deaths, Gaßmann said. For men, the figure was roughly one in four.

On a brighter note, tobacco consumption has been dropping. It fell by 1.6 percent in 2009 and 3.8 percent in 2008. About 29 percent of Germans aged 18 to 64 smoke.

Among men, the figure is 32.8 percent and among women it is 25.5 percent. Between 110,000 and 140,000 people die each year from tobacco-related causes, the centre said.

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Your comments about this article

23:14 April 26, 2011 by dizzyblondefrau
So they don't what us to smoke, they don't want us to drink, next they will say we all should be celibate!

I don't smoke, but I think all should have Liberty to decide that for self. I drink in moderation and don't have a PROBLEM with alcohol just because I like a glass of wine or beer with a meal! And it's not my place or anyone else's to determine what a person can do to self as long as they don't hurt anyone else in process.

Young people are known for not showing restraint, but they usually grow out of it.
23:24 April 26, 2011 by willowsdad
Right you are, DBF. Every affluent country now is getting this professional nagging about its lifestyle. You only got one thing wrong: the third element is not sex, but food. Now everyone who isn't starving is "obese".

They don't want us to have the Liberty to decide for ourselves because they want to control us. If they can convince us that we're not capable of deciding for ourselves (and we let them), they can convince us we need them to make all decisions for us.
23:27 April 26, 2011 by pepsionice
Three years ago....in the midst of July and around 10AM in the morning....I had to make a run to downtown Kaisersluatern. I parked and soon discovered at a dozen young gentlemen....all around 16 and 17 years old....heavily drunk and mostly unable to stand. What surprised as I watched the group....one needed to relieve himself and barely stood....as he simply aimed toward the street and did his best to avoid getting himself wet. Most of the older Germans around me were shocked and eventually the cops did come to gather up the young gentlemen.

There's a problem here and it's simply growing year by year.
00:33 April 27, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, when 1/5 of all deaths are due to alcoholism, then obviously there is a very serious problem.

Sure, Germany's economy is doing quite well. But there is much to life than money. In some ways, the nation is spinning out of control. Therefore, if leaders such as Angela Merkel don't soon create a more functional structure, then the country will continue to drift closer to the edge.

I personally respect Bundeskanzlerin Merkel. She is effective when it comes to "Allowing good times to roll." But she is not the best, when there is a real need for strong leadership and vision.
01:51 April 27, 2011 by Gretl
dizzyblondefrau - I think the problem is replacing sex with drinking...if you can't get laid, you might as well drown your sorrows!

I've never seen such a bunch of men without game. I am not sure what the issue is, but there's a lot of frustrated people out there.
03:18 April 27, 2011 by Altdude
I took my last drink in Heidelberg on January 16, 1993, with the help of a wonderful group of English-speaking people following a 12th Step program. Among them were Americans, British, Irish, Scots, Canadians, Belgians, French and Germans. Alcoholism knows no boundaries. Most people can successfully drink alcohol in moderation, but for we alcoholics, something "special" happens when we take a drink. That "special" feeling leads to another drink. Thus we sometimes say, a man takes a drink, then the drink takes the man. There are many tests for alcoholism; I like this one. Go into a pub at 5 p.m. - order a beer -- drink half of it, then walk away and go home. Do it again tomorrow. If you can do that consistently without feeling massive reluctance, you don't have a drinking problem.
03:27 April 27, 2011 by MfromUSA
The effects of such serious alcohol abuse among people of child bearing age MUST have some impact upon the number of babies born each year with fetal alcohol syndrome. Of course, only women who drink too much would be linked to the incidence of this disorder, but I can hardly believe that young German men are the only ones drinking too much.

The effects of too much alcohol do have far reaching consequences. It is rare that the only harm done via alcohol abuse is to ones self.

Just a thought.........
05:41 April 27, 2011 by willowsdad
It's well to ask who the German Centre for Addiction Issues are, i.e. are they allied with an industry or a group with a particular agenda. Another question is how they arrived at the shocking figures they do. Often, "public health" organizations massage data to provide the desired outcome.

Altdude: why on earth would anyone pay for a beer just to only drink half of it?
08:52 April 27, 2011 by tallady
Logic Guy 1 out of 5 has a drinking problem it did not state that 1 out of 5 die as a result of it.

Drinking has always been a problem, excluding binge drinking the parameters of what constitutes a problem have changed considerably over the last 20 years.

When I was young there were drunks those that staggered around and talked funny,then there were the occasional drinkers and then the borderline social drinkers all except the drunks were considered marginally ok. Now anyone who drinks any amount on a daily basis is an alcoholic. Now we have dysfunctional and functional alcoholics all of whom should be seeing a councilor or attending AA meetings.
08:55 April 27, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
willowsdad, before you dismiss and condemn this report as more liberal conspiracy, you might answer your own questions yourself. I assume the German Centre for Addiction Issues has a particular agenda related to addiction issues.
10:20 April 27, 2011 by raandy
¦quot;dramatic¦quot; these people should have visited my fraternity house 18 years ago.
12:55 April 27, 2011 by charlenej
Can I ask a serious question? Why is there so much conspiracy talk on here? " 'They' are trying to take everything from you" and "The (insert group here: liberals, muslims, etc.) are going to take over and take everything. New World Order!" Let's take off our tinfoil hats. No one in the article said anything about taking away your beer. Drink up. They just said binge drinking is up and 1 in 5 have a problem. Sure, 50 years ago we didn't call it a "drinking problem" but it doesn't mean it wasn't. I'm sure plenty of us grew up with family members who had undiagnosed drinking problems.

@Gretl - you had me at "never seen such a bunch of men without game" Bwahahaha! Truth.
13:32 April 27, 2011 by GolfAlphaYankee
leave it to the Americans to see conspiracy in each and every Gov´t recommendation...
16:56 April 27, 2011 by dizzyblondefrau
@willowsdad, I stand corrected. I believe you are 100% correct on the food issue. I had forgotten about that and it is one of the things that irks me most. They treat us like we are too stupid to make proper choices for ourselves and don't want to give us the option to decide what we want to even look like! How did we get to this point?
18:06 April 27, 2011 by charlenej
@dizzyblonde and willowsdad - again, who is making you do anything? Where does it say you are stupid and can't make your own choices? You are making all this "they" stuff up in your head. It's just a study that is informing you. This study is not out to get you. You are sounding paranoid.
18:24 April 27, 2011 by dizzyblondefrau
@charlenej, IF we were making all this stuff up in our heads, then WHY are you so bothered?
00:49 April 28, 2011 by vonkoenigsberg
The perception that young people will simply "grow out of" a drinking problem is denial and misinformation at its worst. That's the thing about alcoholism - it isn't a choice. It's not done out of free will, the alcoholics/addicts have a disease. But I guess in Germany where they brew the best (and have a reputation for it), there are bound to be a relatively high number of drinkers anyway. Who knows what criteria this study used as a basis for an 'alcoholic'?
06:05 April 28, 2011 by willowsdad
Tallady: exactly. Someone has found it in their interests to pathologize people who probably shouldn't be. Why? Perhaps it means more money or more control over people.

Charlenej: but the majority of us aren't problem drinkers except by the rather arbitrary definition of people who don't much like alcohol. They don't just come in and take your beer away all at once: first, there's a public "information" campaign to make it so that when they do come it will be seen as a matter of necessity and perfectly acceptable. Then there'll be increasing restrictions on who can drink, where and when one can drink, etc. Look what happened with smoking. Do you think the anti-alcohol contingent is not emboldened by that "success"?

GoAlphaYankee: the latest version of this healthist puritanism has started in the US. We gave the world Prohibition and the War on Drugs (Credit for pioneering the modern War on Smokers however must go to a certain German government of almost 80 years ago.) So Americans know how this stuff is designed to go because we've seen so much of it. Americans like conspiracy theories in general because out government, while covering itself in righteousness, has a history of secret ugly behavior. We're not alone, though. Ask an Italian about "strategismo di stato".

Dizzyblondfrau: we let ourselves be convinced that these shrill people were both rational and truly concerned for the common good. And we allowed ourselves to be divided. In the US, they took away the right to drink legally from young adults and older people didn't care, so now they restrict drinking more and more because there was no solidarity.

OkieinBerlin: conservatives are in on this, too, though for different reasons. I would submit that the German Centre for Addiciton Issues might very well have a financial or ideological interest in defining a much larger number of people as addicts, or a connection to those who do. In the US, we've had an anti-alcohol faction for more than 150 years and they've been supported by business interests, who thought they'd get a more sober workforce and save money if drinking were restricted.

I see they're using the weasel tactic of "alcohol-related diseases" to inflate numbers. Here's the trick: you link a disease to alcohol, say heart disease. Then you count anyone who dies of heart disease as dying from an alcohol-related disease, no matter what their consumption patterns might have been. Voila! Instant epidemic.
10:45 April 28, 2011 by charlenej
@dizzyblond - I'm not bothered at all. Just pointing out that sometimes a study is just a study.

Some people do have alcohol problems and too much alcohol can be bad for people's health. I don't see what's wrong with pointing that out. It doesn't mean that I don't drink or that I don't think people should have personal rights.

Maybe the numbers are wrong, and maybe they are right. But, for instance, the increase in alcohol poisoning in young adults is something we should take note of and address. Sometimes "addressing" doesn't mean regulation, it means education.
15:21 April 28, 2011 by Ruderman
What a weird article, it never defines what is "conspicuously too high". I'm sure the report explains that, but as a reader I have no idea what the report considers is too much?
18:38 April 28, 2011 by heathen
beer bonging is cool
19:46 April 28, 2011 by xx.weirich.xx
Actually, it did say one fifth of deaths can be attributed to alcohol:

"The deaths of 73,000 people aged 35 to 65 could be traced back to "alcohol-related health problems" each year, which is about one fifth of all deaths, Gaßmann said. For men, the figure was roughly one in four."

In my opinion just about all of the comments here raise a valid point though. No, not all of the people that are considered to have a drinking problem actually DO, but it is important to work at helping those who have one control it. Yeah, this agency probably DOES have an agenda, and there will probably come to be more restrictions on drinking as a result. Unfortunately though it will probably not be to much avail...

I'm not sure if someone mentioned it yet, but I assume that people in Germany drink as they do because they feel guilty for the events of WWII. Maybe if they finally leave that in the past (not FORGET, but stop blaming themelves for it), the problem will start to fade.
22:37 April 28, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, I must first say Danke, to xx.weirich.xx for restating the facts in the article.

Concerning the observation regarding "WW2 guilt."

I personally have met and spoken with many young Germans.

And all of them said that humanity should not blame them, in particular, for anything, because they weren't even alive.

Alcholism is an addiction. And in reality, most of us are addicted, or have an "Unhealthy Attachment" to something.

The interesting thing about addictions is that they are usually "Sub-consciously Orchestrated" to fill a void.

For many years I had a very strong desire for sugar.

But everything changed once I discovered the extraordinary benefits of Non-emotionalism.
23:42 April 28, 2011 by xx.weirich.xx
Oh? In my experience it has basically been the opposite lol... but I guess you can't speak for an entire population.

I think alcoholism is a genetic thing too. I'm sure many scientists disagree, but in my experience it's something that runs in the family. Maybe it has something to do with the way parents raise kids.
07:54 April 29, 2011 by raandy
Logic Guy when i read your stuff i can not help wondering if you are making a satire of this site and the people that post or are you serious and believe what you write.? I do hope it is the satire.
11:43 April 29, 2011 by MrBowlocks
Every fifth German has a drinking problem, because there are 4 blokes in front of him in the drinks queue :-)
15:59 April 29, 2011 by michael4096
@xx.weirich.xx - it is fairly well established that there is a genetic component to suseptibility to alcoholism

I doubt the WWII aspect though, British girls are going through the same phase. Of course, there is no reason to think they have the same root-cause but Germans are not particularly unique in this and there is no reason to find a 'German' source. (Or sauce?)
18:26 May 2, 2011 by Petew
You need to have a system and stick to it. I never drink when there is a 'z' in the month, and it works for me.
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