Worldwide Alcohol Consumption Continues To Rise

By Beth Leipholtz 05/13/19

A new study predicts that 50% of all adults will consume alcohol by the year 2030.

a group of friends from around the world drinking alcohol

Consumption of alcohol across the world is still rising each year—and it’s not expected to stop any time soon, a new study reports

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, looked at the trends in alcohol consumption from 1990 to 2017.

Researchers found that over those 27 years, there was a 70% increase in the volume of alcohol consumed across the world, increasing from 5.5 billion gallons in 1990 to 9.4 billion gallons in 2017. 

On average, researchers state, these numbers come out to an increase of about 1.7 gallons of alcohol each year. 

While this seems like an enormous increase, researchers note that the growth could have to do with a growing population. 

Among the study’s discoveries was the fact that alcohol consumption is increasing mainly in low- and middle-income countries, while high-income countries haven’t changed drastically. 

"Our study provides a comprehensive overview of the changing landscape in global alcohol exposure," study author Jakob Manthey of the Technical University of Dresden, Germany tells USA Today. "Before 1990, most alcohol was consumed in high-income countries, with the highest use levels recorded in Europe. However, this pattern has changed substantially, with large reductions across Eastern Europe and vast increases in several middle-income countries such as China, India, and Vietnam."

Overall, the study found that people in North Africa and the Middle East drink the least, while individuals in Central and Eastern Europe consume the most alcohol. 

The study predicts that by the year 2030, 50% of all adults will consume alcohol, with 23% binge drinking at least once monthly. The study examined data from 189 countries, and Manthey says that by then, Europe will likely no longer be at the top of the list consumption-wise.

If this prediction holds true, Manthey says that reduction efforts from the World Health Organization will not be reached. 

“Based on our data, the WHO’s aim of reducing the harmful use of alcohol by 10% by 2025 will not be reached globally," Manthey said, according to USA Today. "Instead, alcohol use will remain one of the leading risk factors for the burden of disease for the foreseeable future, and its impact will probably increase relative to other risk factors." 

However, not everyone agrees that this will be the case. The Distilled Spirits Council tells USA Today that the study’s findings may not be accurate. 

"This forecast is based on a questionable model that does not accurately reflect the long-term global reductions in alcohol abuse," the council told USA Today via email. "In fact, the study’s findings contradict the latest data from the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018, which showed important reductions in key global alcohol abuse indicators including alcohol related deaths and heavy episodic drinking from 2010 to 2016.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.