Poland Table of Contents
The older generations of Poles escaped narcotics addiction, but alcoholism is a problem in all generations. Alcohol consumption is an integral part of Polish social tradition, and nondrinkers are relatively rare. Per capita consumption increased significantly after World War II, however, and consumption remained above the European average throughout the communist period. Children often began drinking when still in primary school. Government programs nominally discouraged excessive drinking, but the importance of revenue from the Polish alcohol industry restricted their activity. Throughout the 1980s, the percentage of strong alcoholic beverages in overall consumption rose steadily, putting Poland near the top among nations in that statistic. In 1977 an estimated 4.3 million Poles consumed the equivalent of more than 48 liters of pure alcohol per person per year; of that number, about 1 million were believed to be clinically alcohol-dependent. In 1980 the average male Pole over sixteen years of age consumed the equivalent of 16.6 liters of pure alcohol per year.
Data as of October 1992