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Study warns about alcohol consumption in Brazil

Over two million Brazilians show signs of dependence

Published in 09/08/2019 - 14:10

By Douglas Corrêa Rio de Janeiro

Alcohol consumption in Brazil is more alarming than the use of illicit substances, according to the 3rd National Survey on Drug Use by Brazilians, released by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, or Fiocruz. The study found that some 2.3 million people showed signs of alcohol dependence in the 12 months prior to the research.

Also, over half of the Brazilian population aged 12–65 said they drank alcohol at some point in their lives, and some 46 million—slightly more than 30 percent—reported they consumed at least a dose in the 30 days before the survey.

Approximately 17 thousand people aged 12–65 were heard across Brazil from May to October 2015. The study is regarded as among the most comprehensive. Scientists argue that the results are also representative in small towns and border areas.

Alcohol and violence

The relation between alcohol and different forms of violence was also considered by the researchers, who found that some 14 percent of Brazilian men aged 12–65 drove after drinking alcohol in the 12 months prior to the interview. Among women, this proportion stood at 1.8 percent. People involved in traffic accidents while under the influence reached 0.7 percent.

Some 4.4 million people claimed they had an argument with someone in the 12 months leading to the interview. Of these, 2.9 million were men, and 1.5 million women. The prevalence of people who reported they “destroyed or broke something that did not belong to them” while under the effect of alcohol was also significant and higher among males than females—1.1 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Risk perception

Brazil’s perception of drug use ascribes more risk to the consumption of crack cocaine than to that of alcohol: 44.5 percent think the former is the drug associated with the largest number of deaths in the country, whereas just 26.57 percent place alcohol atop the list.

According to Francisco Inácio Bastos, survey coordinator and researcher at Fiocruz’s Communication and Information Institute, the main studies about the topic—like the World Health Organization research on disease burden—leave no room for doubt: alcohol is the substance most associated, directly and indirectly, to health damages leading to death.

“Both alcohol and crack cocaine, however, pose great challenges for public health. Young Brazilians are consuming drugs with more damage potential, like crack cocaine. Using multiple drugs is also a trend. That’s why it’s important to update epidemiological data in the country, in order to answer questions about a topic like drug use, which becomes an even more complex issue in such a heterogeneous country like Brazil.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira Edition: Carolina Gonçalves / Nira Foster

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