Aim: To estimate the prevalence of hazardous drinking and its socio-economic distribution among Russian men.
Design: Participants were an age-stratified, population-based random sample of men aged 25-54 years living in Izhevsk, a city in the Urals, Russia. Interviewers administered questionnaires to cohabiting proxy respondents about behavioural indicators of hazardous drinking derived from frequency of hangover, frequency of drinking beverage spirits, episodes in the last year of extended periods of drunkenness during which the participant withdraws from normal life (zapoi), consumption of alcoholic substances not intended to be drunk (surrogates) and socio-economic position. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between socio-economic position and indicators of hazardous drinking in the past year.
Findings: Of 1750 men, 79% drank spirits and 8% drank surrogates at least sometimes in the past year; 25% drank spirits and 4% drank surrogates at least weekly and 10% had had an episode of zapoi in the past year. After adjustment for other socio-economic factors, education was strongly associated with indicators of hazardous drinking. Men with the lowest level of education compared to the highest level of education had an odds ratio of surrogate drinking of 7.7 (95% CI 3.2-18.5), of zapoi of 5.2 (2.3-11.8) and of frequent hangover of 3.7 (1.8-7.4). These indicators of hazardous drinking were also independently strongly associated with being unemployed (versus employed) and with levels of household wealth/amenities. Associations of all these variables with daily consumption of beverage spirits were weaker.
Conclusion: Using a novel range of indicator variables of hazardous drinking, this paper shows that the prevalence of these behaviours is high among working-age men in this Russian city. Moreover, these hazardous behaviours show very clear socio-economic patterns, with particularly high prevalence among those who have had the least education and are not in employment. In contrast, more conventional measures of heavy drinking, based on frequency of consumption of beverage spirits, are less prevalent and show much weaker associations with socio-economic position.