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Denmark reduces number with alcohol addiction problems

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark reduces number with alcohol addiction problems
Around 5,000 fewer people in Denmark reported serious alcohol problems between 2010 and 2021 according to new research. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

A smaller percentage of the population in Denmark now suffers with alcohol addiction, but many are still battling with the problem.

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New research from the University of Southern Denmark’s National Institute of Public Health shows that the number of adults in Denmark with severe alcohol addiction problems fell by around 5,000 between 2010 and 2021, from 72,000 to 67,000.

Answers to the survey-based research included fewer people saying they drink first thing in the morning and fewer said that others had observed they drink excessively.

“Things are going the right way. Even though I’d like to have seen a bigger drop, this is a clear and positive trend. And that’s pleasing,” professor and researcher at the institute, Ulrik Becker, told news wire Ritzau.

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Campaigns by the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) and lower alcohol limits are among factors that have reduced the number of people with alcohol addiction problems, he said.

In 2022, the Danish Health Authority changed its recommended weekly intake to no more than 10 units of alcohol weekly for both men and women.

In addition, increased awareness about the dangers of alcohol at home and at work have contributed, he said.

“In the past it was normal at some places of work to begin the day with a ‘Gammel Dansk’ [schnapps, ed.]. Even at hospitals, where I worked, alcohol was sold in the canteen at lunch. That’s unthinkable today,” he said.

The direct of charity Alkohol & Samfund (Alcohol and Society), Ida Fabricius Bruun, said she hoped the results of the study would inspire the government and local authorities to do more for both prevention and treatment of alcohol addiction.

“It’s obviously positive that fewer people have a sever alcohol problem. But it’s a shame that our alcohol consumption generally has not fallen at the same rate as in other countries,” she said.

“There are still many people in Denmark who have big problems and that is devastating for them and for their loved ones,” she said.

While a decreasing number of men reported serious alcohol problems in the survey, the trend was not present for women.

The proportion of women with moderate alcohol problems was found to be around the same as 2010 levels, while it increased slightly for those with serious problems.

That is a source of concern according to Kåre Skarsholm, national director with organisation Tuba, which offers counselling and therapy to young people affected by addiction problems at home.

“For a lot of children their mother is their primary care person, so if their mother drinks too much it’s extra hard,” he said.

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