Alcoholism among women in Sweden rose by 50 percent between 2003 and 2007 as beer, wine and spirits have become more accessible in the country long known for its restrictive alcohol policy, a report on Saturday said.
"The number of female alcoholics has risen from 65,000 to about 100,000 and the number of male alcoholics has risen from about 135,000 to about 165,000. One important reason is that it has become easier and cheaper to buy alcohol," a report written by the head of the Swedish National Institute of Public Health's alcohol and drug division showed.
Sweden, a country of nine million inhabitants, has an alcohol distribution monopoly, meaning that Swedes can only buy beer, wine and liquor at state-run outlets called Systembolaget. Only Systembolaget and wholesalers authorised by the state may import such drinks.
Sweden maintains that the monopoly, and high taxes on alcohol, are needed to protect public health.
But alcohol has nonetheless become more accessible in recent years.
"Reduced alcohol taxes, private imports from abroad and across the internet, longer opening hours at Systembolaget and an increase in the number of restaurants granted liquor licenses" have all contributed to the rise in alcoholism, said Sven Andreasson, the author of the report published in Sweden's newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter.
Andreasson noted that while overall alcohol consumption in Sweden had remained stable in recent years, the number of alcohol poisonings, alcohol-related violence and drink driving cases were on the rise.
The numbers he presented in the report were "in line with" reports from the health sector which indicated an increase in the number of people seeking care for alcohol-related problems, he said.