C.A.N., the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs, shows with a new analysis that self-reported alcohol use declined by 7% in Sweden in 2020, during the ongoing pandemic, compared to 2019.
C.A.N. has conducted the survey on self-reported alcohol use since 2004. In 2020, the survey included information from 14,700 participants between 17 to 84 years.
The overall 7% reduction in self-reported alcohol use is in line with the reduction reported in the 2020 Monitoring Measurement by C.A.N., which measures alcohol consumption through sales data.
Despite the overall reduction, the oldest age group in the survey 65–84-year-olds have increased their alcohol use by 4%. C.A.N. explains that this generation has had higher alcohol intake throughout their lifecourse and is simply carrying on that trend and not necessarily increasing their alcohol use as they age.
Since the survey began, men’s alcohol use has been declining, while women’s use remained stable. Despite the decline men still consume twice as much alcohol as women. More than half, 52%, of the alcohol men consume is beer. For women, the predominant beverage is wine, which accounts for 67% of alcohol use.
Young people’s alcohol use fell
Alcohol use of young people in Sweden has been on the decline since the 2000s. In 2004, alcohol consumption in the youngest age group, 17–29-year-olds, was more than twice as high as among the oldest. In 2020, the gap has narrowed to 11%.
People’s lives were greatly affected by the pandemic. For young people this meant reduced leisure and entertainment activities, less contact with friends and more isolation. C.A.N.’s school survey in 2021 included questions regarding how these differences affected high school students. The participants were students in year 2 of upper secondary school.
The survey found that with more restricted leisure time and more limited opportunities to meet friends there were more reductions in alcohol use.
Unfortunately, the disruptions due to the pandemic also meant young people suffered more. Almost a quarter (23%) have experienced increased anxiety and 8% experienced more conflicts or quarrels at home. Those who were more affected by the pandemic also had more psychosomatic problems such as eadaches, stress and depression.
C.A.N.: “7% less alcohol by 2020” [Translated from Swedish]
C.A.N.: “Affected by the pandemic?” [Translated from Swedish]