23 lut 2011

Drinking in Poland


According to the stereotype Poles drink a lot, especially vodka. Is it a fact, a reality, a habit? A recent WHO publication has made me thinking.

Firstly – the data. It’s not very up-to-date (2007) but we don’t have any better. In the stats every Pole 15+ drinks 13 litres of pure alcohol a year*. The Polish data shows only recorded amounts – 9,5 l. Since 2001 to 2007 it’s been 2 litres more.

Let’s compare it to the other countries. “The Economist” did it for us, check this image.

I’m not going to defend or accuse. I drink almost nothing so I can’t share my personal experience with you;) It’s not because I’m against, I just don’t like the bitter taste. Most of my friends end with one or two bottles of wine. Fortunately the society is getting richer so drinking wine becomes more popular. For the last 10 years I’ve observed the growing number of wine shops in Warsaw which is positive.

I wanted to know what foreigners think about the Polish drinking style. From this blog I took this two quotations with which I fully agree:

“The vast majority of Poles drink rarely and with considerable restraint but there is a small elite corps of front line spetsnaz drinkers who take the bulk of the strain for the entire nation”. True!

It starts early as probably everywhere. The first drinking experiences have kids around 13 years old. What is more bothering 68% of 15-year-old boys and 54% of girls drank alcohol last month.

“Polish teenagers were immensely proud of what they saw as their nation’s reputation for hard drinking. In the way of teenagers everywhere the ability to acquire and consume alcohol was seen as a mark of extreme coolness”. Unfortunately many young people enjoys boasting about the amount of alcohol they drank or who did what after heavy drinking.

All in all I don’t think Poles drink differently than other nations. The only alarming situation is the number of drunk drivers who cause a lot of accidents and kill many people. So many campaigns, condemnations and explanations and it’s still a big problem.

If you would like to read more, check PARPA website.

I would like to read about your experience with alcohol in Poland. What does it look like here and in your countries?


* It may sound a lot but 1 bottle of beer for 300 days gives 7,5 l of pure alcohol.

5 komentarzy:

  1. I can't help but suspect that Jamie's post, which you quote, was very tongue in cheek: note his "How can there possibly be no comments on this post… what’s wrong with you people!?" comment. I would go with Maciek's and Sylwia's comments on that post. Although I do not think Polish people drink a lot regularly, they can drink enormous amounts on family occasions. The ability to drink a bottle of vodka after several weeks of abstinence (ie since the last name day, or whatever), made me wonder if, as Maciek put it "our bodies (DNA?) got used to drinking".

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  2. I'm not a scientist, I can't tell anything about the DNA:) In his comment Maciek is trying to explain why Poles drink and to prove that we are more resistant than others. I'm not sure it's like that.

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    1. Richard from Toronto,

      Hi, I enjoyed much of what island1 had to say. Having lived in Canada most of my life, I have experienced and come recognize English humour (not from Canadians, we are quite sober most of the time), which carries a lot of sarcasm. It seems to be their national trait. He did stereotype a bit, but then he might know Poland better than me. My family left in 1965.

      I hope this reaches the forum as this is my first attempt to respond to anything on the Internet. czesc

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  3. It was a while ago that I wrote that, but I still think it's true. A lot of Poles, especially women, drink very little and do not deserve the hard-drinking label. I still find it weird that a lot of these same people will tell you, without a hint of irony, that being able to drink a lot is an innate Polish characteristic.

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  4. Jamie, you're right. Generally women drink less but it doesn't mean they don't become addicted. Women's alcoholism is still a taboo in Poland.

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