Prevalence and Trends in Alcohol Dependence and Alcohol Use Disorders in Japanese Adults; Results from Periodical Nationwide Surveys

Alcohol Alcohol. 2016 Jul;51(4):465-73. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agw002. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


Aims: Nationwide surveys to clarify the characteristics and trends of the drinking behavior of Japanese adults were carried out in 2003, 2008, and 2013.

Methods: These were periodical cross-sectional surveys. Subjects were chosen through a stratified two-stage random sampling method. The surveys included drinking frequency and amount, ICD-10 alcoholism diagnostic standards, questionnaire for the determination of harmful alcohol use (

Audit: Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test). In 2003, the surveys obtained responses from 2547 people (73% response rate); in 2008, 4123 people (55% response rate); and in 2013, 4153 people (59% response rate).

Results: The proportion of lifetime experience of alcohol dependence diagnosed by ICD-10 was 1.9% for male and 0.2% for female, and the estimated number of patients was 1.07 million. The declining trends were observed in the percentage of daily drinkers and the amount of alcohol consumed per week for male. The lowering of the age for consuming their first alcoholic drink and their first drunken experience was observed among female. The gender difference of prevalence of problem drinking is getting smaller. The binge drinking and heavy episodic drinking were observed especially younger generation. The only small proportion of patients with alcohol dependence had received specialized medical care, whereas the many of these visited medical institutions and health screening.

Conclusions: The survey observed many hidden alcoholic patients, and showed the possibility that the healthcare facilities and health screening became the place of screening and intervention for alcohol dependence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult