Alcohol use disorders (AUDs), and alcohol dependence (AD) in particular, are prevalent and associated with a large burden of disability and mortality. The aim of this study was to estimate prevalence of AD in the European Union (EU), Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland for the year 2010, and to investigate potential influencing factors. The 1-year prevalence of AD in the EU was estimated at 3.4% among people 18-64 years of age in Europe (women 1.7%, men 5.2%), resulting in close to 11 million affected people. Taking into account all people of all ages, AD, abuse and harmful use resulted in an estimate of 23 million affected people. Prevalence of AD varied widely between European countries, and was significantly impacted by drinking cultures and social norms. Correlations with level of drinking and other drinking variables and with major known outcomes of heavy drinking, such as liver cirrhosis or injury, were moderate. These results suggest a need to rethink the definition of AUDs.