The epidemiology of alcohol use disorders cross-nationally: Findings from the World Mental Health Surveys

Meyer D. Glantz, Chrianna Bharat, Louisa Degenhardt, Nancy A. Sampson, Kate M. Scott, Carmen C.W. Lim, Ali Al-Hamzawi, Jordi Alonso, Laura Helena Andrade, Graca Cardoso, Giovanni De Girolamo, Oye Gureje, Yanling He, Hristo Hinkov, Elie G. Karam, Georges Karam, Viviane Kovess-Masfety, Victor Lasebikan, Sing Lee, Daphna LevinsonJohn McGrath, Maria Elena Medina-Mora, Constanta Mihaescu-Pintia, Zeina Mneimneh, Jacek Moskalewicz, Fernando Navarro-Mateu, José Posada-Villa, Charlene Rapsey, Juan Carlos Stagnaro, Hisateru Tachimori, Margreet Ten Have, Nathan Tintle, Yolanda Torres, David R. Williams, Yuval Ziv, Ronald C. Kessler

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Prevalences of Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) and Mental Health Disorders (MHDs) in many individual countries have been reported but there are few cross-national studies. The WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative standardizes methodological factors facilitating comparison of the prevalences and associated factors of AUDs in a large number of countries to identify differences and commonalities. Methods: Lifetime and 12-month prevalence estimates of DSM-IV AUDs, MHDs, and associations were assessed in the 29 WMH surveys using the WHO CIDI 3.0. Results: Prevalence estimates of alcohol use and AUD across countries and WHO regions varied widely. Mean lifetime prevalence of alcohol use in all countries combined was 80%, ranging from 3.8% to 97.1%. Combined average population lifetime and 12-month prevalence of AUDs were 8.6% and 2.2% respectively and 10.7% and 4.4% among non-abstainers. Of individuals with a lifetime AUD, 43.9% had at least one lifetime MHD and 17.9% of respondents with a lifetime MHD had a lifetime AUD. For most comorbidity combinations, the MHD preceded the onset of the AUD. AUD prevalence was much higher for men than women. 15% of all lifetime AUD cases developed before age 18. Higher household income and being older at time of interview, married, and more educated, were associated with a lower risk for lifetime AUD and AUD persistence. Conclusions: Prevalence of alcohol use and AUD is high overall, with large variation worldwide. The WMH surveys corroborate the wide geographic consistency of a number of well-documented clinical and epidemiological findings and patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106128
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Abuse
  • Alcohol
  • Comorbidity
  • Dependence
  • Prevalence
  • Remission


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