Statistics constantly reveal that Hungarians are among the nations with the highest alcohol consumption. It was somewhat expected that as a result of the epidemic, we are consuming more alcohol worldwide. However, experts point out that Hungarians drink twice as much as the world average.
Alcohol sales increased by 291% worldwide during the pandemic, which is a shocking number, especially for us Hungarians who are at the forefront of the world when it comes to drinking. It is not known exactly how many alcoholics there are in Hungary; the 380 thousand given by the Central Statistical Office is not close to reality. Experts speak about 800 thousand, but the WHO said 900 thousand a few years ago. Are we an addicted nation? asks Pénzcentrum.
“We are at the forefront of alcohol consumption in Europe: we are roughly in the sixth to eighth place in terms of per capita consumption of concentrated alcohol,”
says addiction consultant Zsolt Nagy. According to pessimistic estimates, every Hungarian citizen, from infants to the elderly, consumes an average of 15 litres of concentrated alcohol per year. With this, we are really at the forefront, as the world average is around 6 litres.
According to the expert, the phenomenon has a socio-cultural and historical background. Alcohol consumption has become very ingrained in Hungarian culture, as a necessary part of life: it has been present in peasant culture and has also been transferred to urban culture. The other reason is perhaps the tortuous nature of Hungarian history: our “suffering” is usually mentioned at such times.
“I see this trend clearly getting worse in the last year and a half,” says the expert. He added that the pandemic is a circumstance that makes it easier to find an excuse for increased alcohol consumption.
At the same time, it should not be overlooked that a significant part of the population is in a completely new life situation and that these are not necessarily favourable changes.
What is really interesting is that along with the increase of health awareness, alcohol is invariably present in our lives, as if it were in the blind spot: a significant part of Hungarian society simply does not perceive uncontrolled drinking as a problem.
Health awareness now covers almost everything, but it seems there is still not enough emphasis on mental health.