Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Use of Alcohol and Surrogates by Residents of a Typical Belarus City

Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Use of Alcohol and Surrogates by Residents of a Typical Belarus City

Article excerpt


Noncommercial alcohol has recently become the subject of much attention from alcohol policy experts.1'2 The problem of the consumption of noncommercial alcohol in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries has attracted the attention of researchers and experts in the public healthcare field after the epidemic of poisonings by surrogate alcohols, which swept across Russia and Belarus in 2006.3-5 Despite the extreme urgency of the problem, relatively few studies so far focused on using illegally produced alcoholic drinks in Belarus. One previous study confirms the widespread of use of privately made strong alcoholic drinks in Belarus with 41% of men and 19% of women obtaining same or all of their alcohol from private sources.6 In a more recent study was reported that at least 20% of alcohol dependent patients regularly consume samogon and 12% of patients use surrogates, the most popular among which are medications with a high percentage of ethanol and industrial spirits.7 However, our knowledge with respect to the prevalence of the consumption of surrogates in Belarus, as well as the style and motives of their consumption remains fragmented. The aim of this study was to some extent to fill this gap by studying the prevalence, types of alcohol and surrogates consumed patterns of consumption and reasons behind noncommercial alcohol consumption among urban population in Belarus.


Participating in the study were 655 respondents (329 men and 326 women) ages 18 to 70 who live in the city of Grodno. It should be emphasized that Grodno is a typical city of Belarus, and therefore the data obtained can be extrapolated to the entire urban population of the republic. The trained interviewers carried out face-to-face interviews with the respondents, using a structured questionnaire of more than 30 questions covering the social characteristics of respondents, the level and structure of the consumption of alcoholic beverages, the prevalence of the use of samogon and alcohol surrogates, the opinion of the respondents on the quality of licensed alcohol and samogon, and the motives that guided them in the selection of alcoholic beverages. The interview was conducted in the apartments of the respondents, which, to some degree, could be reflected in the sincerity of the answers because this method does not guarantee complete anonymity. The final sample consisted of 655 respondents, and the primary response rate was 60%. The results of the survey were entered into a computer database after which it was subjected to statistical processing.


Description of the Sample

Before presenting the main results of the study, some social and demographic characteristics need to be provided for the respondents who took part in the study. Selected sample characteristics are summarized in table 1. The average age was 36.5±10.2 years for men and 34.1±11.1 years for women. The majority of men (63.9%) and women (59.3%) were married. The majority of men (60%) and women (57.9%) also had a secondary education, while 30% of men and 39.1% of women had a higher education. By social status the respondents were distributed as follows: white-collar workers (19.0% of men and 36.7% of women), blue-collar workers (49.6% of men and 25.9 % of women), students (15.1% of men and 16.3% of women), retirees (10.5% of men and 10.6% of women), and unemployed (6.7% of men and 5.5% of women).The respondents are broken down by income level as fol- lows: below average (42.5% of men and 63.7% of women), average (39.5% of men and 33.0% of women), and above average (17.9% of men and 3.4% of women).

Types of Alcohol Consumed and Patterns of Consumption

According to the results of this study, 6.6% of men and 17.1% of women abstain completely, while 28.7% of men and 25.2% of women consume alcohol several times a month and 63.4% of men and 56.7% of women consume alcohol several times a week. In this case, an insignificant portion of men (1. …

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