Aim: This study aimed to survey the changes in alcohol habits during a period with the European Union legal practices.
Methods: Alcohol habits in Sweden were surveyed in the general Swedish population at four timepoints, in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009, using the 10-item AUDIT questionnaire.
Design: Four separate randomly drawn cross-sectional samples of 1,250 individuals were surveyed at each timepoint.
Results: An average of 70% of the sampled individuals responded to the AUDIT questionnaire. Men had higher total AUDIT scores than women in 2005 and 2009, but scores increased among women 61-71 years old and decreased among men 61-71 years old. Younger men and women 17-27 years old decreased their AUDIT-C consumption scores by almost 20% between 2005 and 2009. An analysis of problem drinkers (+8 for men/+6 for women) indicated that a larger proportion of elderly women drank moderately in 2009 compared with 2005, but fewer elderly women drank hazardously.
Conclusions: Earlier increases in drinking levels between 1997 and 2001 may reflect a latent high demand that was restricted by low availability. When availability due to European Union harmonization increased, alcohol consumption followed suit. After a period of adaptation, alcohol consumption appears to have stabilized.
Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.