Tackle drink problems, experts urge
Alcoholism is fast becoming a social problem in China and demands urgent attention, experts have warned.
Quoting studies carried out by government health departments, Xinhua said the number of alcoholics was growing steadily in China.
According to Xinhua, China defines a male alcoholic as someone who drinks two bottles of beer a day or 50 to 100 millilitres of beijiu , or Chinese white wine, a day. Women are considered alcoholics if they drink more than one beer a day. Alcoholics often could not control themselves and had great difficulty stopping drinking, the report said.
Citing figures collected from studies in 1982 and 1993, Xinhua said the number of alcoholics jumped fourfold from 0.016 for every 1,000 people, to 0.068. The report did not cite more recent figures but said numbers were on the rise.
Psychiatric experts from Beijing University told Xinhua alcoholism had become a common sickness among psychiatric patients nowadays, but it was almost unheard of among patients in 1985.
They said in 1996 about 16 per cent of the male population in cities drank every day compared to three per cent of the female urban population.
The Xinhua report said 80 per cent of alcoholics started drinking under the influence of families, colleagues and friends. While most teenagers became alcoholics because of influence from their families, many adults became dependent through mixing with work colleagues.
Observers said alcoholism was most serious in northern provinces and in remote impoverished villages where residents had little entertainment.
They believe that the problem has grown more serious in recent years because the number of unemployed workers has risen sharply and many laid-off workers have become hooked to the bottle as a means of escape from financial worries.