Sunday, February 24, 2008

Swedes Afraid of Returning to Its Drunken Past Due to EU Directives

A nation with a tradition of drinking to the point of drunkenness and a history of abuse going back to the miseries of 19th-century industrialization, Sweden has been able through stringent laws and enforcement to stabilize the alcohol consumption of its citizens.

During the worst period of abuse in Sweden in the mid-1800's, the country had more than 175,000 distilling machines for a population of about eight million, and consumption was estimated at almost 49 quarts of alcohol per adult per year compared with about 9.5 ten years ago. But the European Union is extending its reach and to harmonize its policies. Stretching from freezing climates to desert regions and incorporating vastly different cultures, the union is seeing that what may be a market commodity in one country is a health issue in another.

"Here we come from a tradition of drinking where people beat each other up and even get killed over drinking. You talk to the Italians and they don't see that. Drinking has been a part of their way of life for 1,000 years and they think young people need to be taught to drink." Says Dr. Gunar Agren, the executive manager of Sweden's National Institute of Health.Lennart Johnk, who has worked with alcoholics for 20 years says, "The world is changing and that is good, but as social workers I think we are going to have more problems."

No comments: