In Germany, as you know, for the beer, you pay the same as for ordinary water, also drinking alcohol in public places is not only not prohibited, but widespread. The question is: does the availability of cheap alcohol is harmful culture of consumption?
The Germans are one of the most drinking Nations in Europe, ranking fifth after Luxembourg, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Ireland. Only 5% of people in Germany can call themselves sober, which, after Luxembourg, is the lowest in Europe.
According to the International Organization for Health in the European region, the highest rates of alcohol consumption compared to other regions of the globe (consumption per capita is twice higher than the global average).
A huge social problem
Alcoholism is one of the most serious problems in Germany, as stated by Peter lang, the head of the Department of prevention and study of the abuse of narcotic substances of the German Centre for Health Education.
“It’s hard to say what exactly is causing this perception of alcohol as a more or less acceptable drug in most cases, for example, during parties or other social events,” he suggests.
“If you spend comparing Germany with other countries such as the USA, the use of alcohol during the day and in public places there is more acceptable,” adds lang.
Recent studies show that 1.7 million Germans are dependent on alcohol and need treatment, whilst, 2.7 million regularly abuse alcohol.
Compared to the U.S., where, with a population of 300 million who are dependent on alcohol only 7.91 million
“German society as a whole, does not support a positive image of excessive drinking, and, currently, a growing awareness of the dangers of irresponsibility in this regard”, – said Gabriel bars from the Center for the study of Addiction.
“Consumption of pure alcohol per capita in Germany have steadily declined over the last six years, the number of victims in accidents because of alcohol intoxication decreased by half since 1995,” she continues.
“But for young people drinking alcohol is part of lifestyle, especially during weekends and holidays, when alcohol is consumed thoughtlessly and carelessly”.
Mark, who wished not to give his name — an American, working as a coordinator in the English section alcoholics anonymous Germany. He drew attention to the fact that in German culture the consumption of alcohol is much more acceptable than in the us.
“It seems that the use of too large quantities and loss of control over this process causes social rejection, as here in Germany, and other Nations,” says mark.
“A common misconception in Germany and the United States is of the opinion that if you only drink wine or beer, you can’t become an alcoholic. Here in Germany, it is a common point of view,” he continues.
Can I drink a sixteen year old?
Officially you can drink alcohol in Germany is 16 years, although you will have to wait two more years to legally drink alcohol. The difference in five years with the United States, where the minimum drinking age of 21 years, is very significant.
“If you drink before reaching the age of 18, it may cause serious harm, because at this age still the process of formation of brain activity,” says lang. “But without public campaigns to bring attention to this problem it is impossible to change the law and set a minimum age of 18 years.”
Bars agree to the use of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 18 should be prohibited.
“However, we are well aware that it is impossible to reduce the harm caused by alcohol simply applying legislative restrictions,” she says. “What we really need is a comprehensive solution to the problem.”
To drink anywhere and anytime
In Germany, alcohol can be purchased in grocery stores, gas stations and even newspaper kiosks. Drinking is allowed in restaurants, cafes and eateries also not surprising that people who drink in parks, on the street and in public transport.
Open use in public places has become a phenomenon that first appeared about five years ago, says lang. He claims it has become common thanks to the development of the soft drinks market, designed for the youth segment of consumers that was not limited only to this.
“Currently we are seeing a growing number of young people openly drinking beer and it becomes quite acceptable,” he says.
Beer for the price of water
In Germany, the cost of alcohol in relation to the overall cost of living is among the lowest in Europe.
Bard argues that the price of alcohol in Germany is too low. She points to the fact that when was a tax on the sale of alcoholic beverages, their consumption fell sharply.
“Since Germany is a wine-growing country and has a long tradition of beer consumption, high probability risk of problems related to alcohol,” she notes. – “Also, there is a lack of information on the dangers of alcohol and the lack of effort to change social norms to allow such a state of Affairs.”