Israel’s alcohol problem came to light in 2009 – 2010, and before we knew it, some 80,000 people in the country were counted among alcoholics. Over a million people consumed what the Health Ministry considers “harmful amounts.”
There was a trend in the past where many professionals thought that alcoholism was untreatable.
And a lot of people never seek help. Estimates suggest as much as 94% of alcoholics are untreated or never diagnosed with the addiction. Perhaps these individuals consider themselves “functioning alcoholics,” which still function in society but with an alcoholic beverage in their hands.
Israel had a way of sweeping the problem “under the rug.” Ignoring the disease led to many people with alcoholism never being diagnosed with the disease.
What good is the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a report of Israelis ages 15+ and found that the average person consumed 2.8 litres of pure alcohol. This was a change of 0.2 from 2003 – 2005 to 2008 – 2010.
The figure isn’t that concerning, especially when the unrecorded amount dropped by 0.2, so the average consumption was 2.8 litres. Males consume much more alcohol than females: 4.0 compared to 1.7 litres.
But when looking at the WHO European Region, Israelis consume far less than the 10.9 litre average.
A major issue for Israel is that is no national monitoring system in place. This means it’s difficult to determine the true alcohol statistics in the country. Restrictions for the sale of alcohol beverages were also not the same in all places, so petrol stations or events could sell alcohol. There were also no legally binding restrictions on alcohol advertising.
Israelis are often reluctant to seek help at an alcohol treatment centre because they don’t realize that an addiction is present. Doctors have also been slow to recommend treatment centres, leaving many Israelis stuck in their addictive habits.
When compared to other countries, the alcohol problem in Israel isn’t as severe, yet the trend does show an increase in the number of alcoholics.
Among OECD countries, Israel and Turkey ranked among the lowest in alcohol consumption. The scary trend is the increase in what’s considered “risky drinking behavior.” A rise in these risky behaviors is occurring among youths, which start drinking at a young age.
The risky behaviors can include traffic accidents and violence. Chronic and acute conditions lead to youths drinking heavily.
Israel’s alcohol problem is far less of a concern than smoking in Israel, which is higher than in other OECD members.
Israel’s policies, albeit later than in most other countries, may not have needed implementation as rapidly because alcoholism really isn’t a major problem. We’re also seeing 60% of doctors in Israel learning overseas.
Why is this important?
Other countries have recognized alcoholism as a disease for a long time, so these newly trained doctors are more likely to recommend treatment programs and help alcoholics find help. Israel, on the other hand, has been said to have “sold out” to tobacco companies and has not put effective measures in place that are strict enough to stifle the high rise of smoking.