Background: Hazardous consumption of large quantities of alcohol is a major cause of ill-health in the former Soviet Union (fSU). The objective of this study was to describe episodic heavy drinking and other hazardous drinking behaviors in eight countries of the fSU. Methods: Data from national surveys of adults conducted in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine in 2001 were used (overall sample size 18,428; response rates 71-88%). Heavy episodic drinking, high alcohol intake, drinking alcohol during the working day, and using illegally produced strong spirits were examined. Results: On average, 23% of men and 2% of women were defined as heavy episodic drinkers (>= 2 l of beer or >= 750 g bottle of wine or >= 200 g strong spirits at least once every 2-3 weeks). This was more common in young males, women who are single or who are divorced/separated/widowed, in smokers, and in frequent alcohol drinkers. About half the respondents who drank strong spirits obtained at least some alcohol from private sources. Among drinkers, 11% of males and 7% of women usually took their first drink before the end of working day. Conclusions: Heavy episodic alcohol drinking is frequent in males throughout the region-although prevalence rates may have been affected by underreporting-but is still relatively rare in women. Alcohol policies in the region should address hazardous drinking patterns and the common use of illegally produced alcohol.
- binge drinking