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2016.10.17, 18.09
Gennadiy Volodin

Habits and preferences of Ukrainians in the consumption of alcoholic beverages

Alcohol has been known to mankind at least since biblical times. And in spite of such a long experience of acquaintance with this product people are still wondering, what is alcohol - evil or good? Depending on the perception of alcohol-related harm, people can be divided into two groups: those who are critical about it and those who are lenient towards it. Moreover, each of these groups has quite convincing arguments in favor of its position. And if critical arguments are clearly formulated by narcologists, then liberal ones are formulated and sharpened by millions of alcohol consumers. Here is a short fragment from the simulated argument of representatives of these two groups.


Consumers: Alcohol is just a nutrition product. And just like any other product, it may be both beneficial and destructive to people’s health under certain conditions.


Doctors: Firstly, alcohol cannot be classified as nutrition product because it has no nutritional value. And, secondly, in the mid 70-ies of 20th century the World Health Organization officially declared it a drug that undermines public health.


Consumers: Perhaps it is true. But it is well known fact that if you drink a little alcohol, there will be no harm.


Doctors: All alcoholics usually start drinking on a small dose. The trouble is that alcohol gradually causes addiction and dependence, like drugs in general. And this entails an increase in alcohol doses, destruction of physical health and personality of the drinker.


Consumers: But you would not deny that in some cases it is impossible to do without alcohol. For example, if we need to de-stress and have fun.


Doctors: Yes, small doses of alcohol actually reduce restraint, put at ease and induce a state of euphoria. However, this is because alcohol causes paralysis of cells of the cerebral cortex and it becomes more difficult to control words and actions. And with increasing dose of alcohol a person may absolutely lose the ability to understand what is happening. It is unreasonable to use alcohol to reduce stress: after alcohol is eliminated from the body, painful feelings will wash over you with redoubled force. Furthermore, do not take other drugs to relax if you’re not looking for trouble on purpose.


Consumers: So it turns out that alcohol is an absolute evil? What about scientific findings that small doses of alcohol reduce the risk of several serious diseases, including cardiovascular diseases?


Doctors: This point of view really exists and it is not groundless. But the overwhelming majority of researchers involved in the issue believe that small doses of alcohol cause rather more harm to the health than they may be beneficial.


It would be possible to continue this dispute, arguing against or in favor of alcohol. However, the number of these arguments is unlikely to change the ratio of supporters and opponents of alcohol consumption. Everyone is free to decide which side to take in this dispute. At the same time, each person will proceed not only from strength of parties’ arguments, but also from the results of their comparison with appropriate preferences, habits, standards of behavior that have formed in his/her social environment, among those who he/she loves and respects, with whom they are friends, whom he/she is ready to imitate. And it is attitude to alcohol in a social environment of the individual that can easily confirm or discredit any arguments regarding both benefits and harm of alcoholic beverages. In our opinion, the well-known expression can be accurately paraphrased as follows: “Tell me, what attitude to alcohol in your environment is and I'll tell you what your attitude to alcohol is”.


If by our social environment we mean Ukrainian society, then today’s attitude to alcohol consumption can hardly be considered a normal social background for personal development of our fellow citizens. For example, according to expert estimates, the average Ukrainian (including babies and very old men) drinks about 20 liters of pure alcohol during the year, which makes our country one of the world leaders on this indicator. One of the results of this “achievement” is that every year 100 thousand of our fellow citizens are registered as alcoholics. The high level of alcoholic psychosis and alcohol poisoning is held in Ukraine. There is a lot of other evidence of the high level of society alcoholization. According to experts, low living standards, difficult economic situation, social upheavals, affordable price for alcohol and low control over its sales, depression and lack of positive emotions as well as low level of drinking culture are the most important factors contributing to alcoholization of Ukraine. 


Some aspects of alcohol consumption in today's Ukraine were investigated by Research & Branding Group in the framework of September wave of Omnibus Survey. Main findings obtained during primary data analysis are given below:


  • A quarter of Ukrainians (25%) has never tried alcohol and they do not drink it at the moment. In general, respondents either drink alcohol at the moment (57%) or drank it before (18%).


  • Today, 68% of men and 48% of women drink alcohol.


  • The highest percentage of alcohol drinkers is observed among persons aged between 30 - 39 (70%), and the lowest - among those who are over 60 years old (42%).


  • In most cases (at the level of 67-77%) drinkers of alcohol are found among employees of large public and private enterprises, including small and medium-sized businesses, as well as among the unemployed. Less often they can be found among pensioners and people with disabilities (41%), and among those who are on maternity leave (38%).


  • Beer and vodka are the leaders among other alcoholic beverages in the frequency of their consumption by Ukrainians (49% of mentions). Dry wines are far behind them (27%), as well as champagne (19%), cognac and brandy (18%), fortified wines (17%) and other beverages.


  • Alcoholic beverage preference depends on the gender of respondents. For example, men often prefer vodka (67%), beer (66%) and cognac (22%), while women - dry wines (43%), champagne (33%) and fortified wines (23%).


  • Another factor influencing these preferences is the age of our fellow citizens. Respondents under 30 years of age consume beer (62%) more often than other age groups and less often - vodka (36%). But among the elderly this ratio is reversed: 32% most often drink beer and 56% most often drink vodka.


  • Persons having relatively low level of education (not higher than general secondary education) most often prefer to drink vodka. Such preferences can be infrequently found among people having dual and higher education.


  • More than half of our fellow citizens (53%) drinks alcohol no more than once a month and just under a half (45%) - 2-3 times a month or more.


  • Women tell about high frequency of drinking less often than men. For example, 16% of men and only 5% of women answered that they drink alcohol several times a week, and 40% of men and 23% women said that they drink alcohol 2-3 times a month.


  • As a rule, Ukrainians explain their alcohol consumption by the tradition to celebrate some holidays (73%). Following answers also prevail among the reasons to drink: desire to relax (24%) and “for company's sake” (15%).


  • Some inessential differences in frequencies of mention of certain reasons for drinking alcohol are observed in relation to gender, age and region of residence of the respondents.


  • About half of Ukrainians (48%) first tried alcohol between 16 and 18 years of age. And about a third of them (30%) did it later. However, one in six of our fellow citizens (16%) first became acquainted with alcohol taste in adolescence (14-15 years of age) or even in childhood (under 14 years of age).


More detailed data in the form of charts are given below.




Геннадий Володин, алкоголь, потребление спиртных напитков, исследование R&B Group, омнибус R&B Group,

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