Almost one-tenth of adults in the Czech Republic, around 900,000 people, drink alcohol every day, and around 1.5 million drink hazardously, Pavla Chomynova, head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions, told journalists yesterday, presenting the centre’s annual report on addiction.
According to the report, the network of help and services is inadequate. About 30,000 people are currently in treatment. Experts have estimated the losses and impacts of alcohol addiction at up to CZK 55 billion a year.
The government proposes an increase in excise tax on alcohol in a consolidation budget package aimed at improving state finances. However, the taxation of still wine will remain at zero.
“The rate of alcohol consumption has been high for a long time,” Chomynova said. “According to studies, the situation has not changed in the long term. The first sign of a decline was in 2021, when one study showed lower rates of daily drinking, especially among men.”
The average Czech consumes about ten litres of pure alcohol a year. This puts the Czech Republic at the top of the drinking rankings. According to the report, between 1.5 and 1.7 million people drink in a risky manner. Between 800,000 and 980,000 partake in what experts classify as “harmful drinking.”
Men drink more alcohol, and are also more likely to become addicted. They usually combine different types of alcoholic beverages, and drink more spirits and beer.
“Women are more likely to drink wine,” said Chomynova. “Drinking patterns among women are different. Women are more likely to drink alone. It starts with an innocent drink, a drink in the evening, and it turns into daytime drinking.”
She said the proportion of women in treatment for alcohol addiction is increasing slightly. The number of patients in facilities is declining, according to the findings, and people are seeking more outpatient treatment.
Chomynova said about five dozen people die of alcohol overdose in the Czech Republic every year, and a further 6,000 to 7,000 deaths are linked to alcohol. The negative impact of drinking in the Czech Republic is estimated at between CZK 35 and 55 billion.
In a policy statement earlier this year, the government said it wanted to combat addiction according to a “scientifically proven and balanced approach to risk prevention and harm reduction.”
About one-fifth of adults smoke every day. Men are more likely to smoke than women.
According to studies, the situation has not changed in the long term, but experts are seeing changes in young people’s behaviour. Since 2011, the number of teenagers who smoke conventional cigarettes has been declining, and electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco are growing in popularity. The transition from primary to secondary school is a turning point, Chomynova said, adding that smoking rates were rising.
In the last year of secondary school, 12% of male and female students smoke regularly.
A total of 13 to 15% of adults use medicines in a potentially dangerous way. About 1.35 million people take sedatives, hypnotics or opioid analgesics for more than six weeks, without a prescription or against medical advice.
“The rate of overuse and misuse of medicines is relatively high,” Chomynova said.
Around 9% of teens have taken over-the-counter sleeping or tranquilising drugs, ie, sedatives and hypnotics, in the past 12 months. Girls were more likely to do so. “The Czech Republic ranks at the top of this list,” Chomynova noted.
Cannabis remains the most common illicit drug. As many as a tenth of adults have used it in the past year. Roughly 200,000 people use it more frequently. The proportion of adolescents who have experience with cannabis is falling. Whereas boys used to be more likely to have experience with cannabis, it is now roughly equal between boys and girls.
“The differences have been completely erased,” Chomynova said.
According to the report, around 450,000 adults face a risk of becoming addicted to digital technology, and 200,000 people have gaming problems.