A 161-page document released this week looking into the state of alcoholism in Europe has placed Portugal amongst the top ten consumers in the continent.
The study entitled Alcohol in the European Union was compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) using vast amounts of national and international research findings.
The average amount of alcohol consumed in Portugal was placed at 13.43 litres per annum, above the European average of 12.45 litres.
Portugal was found to be one of the highest alcohol-related road fatalities, but still fared better than Belgium or Austria.
Absenteeism due to excesses the night before was also high in Portugal, which led researchers to reach the conclusion that those who drink in Portugal drink heavily.
Nonetheless, alcohol consumers in Portugal were the least prone to binging, which is defined as six drinks in one evening on at least one occasion each month.
The percentage in Portugal of males who admit to being binge drinkers was 12.2 percent, below the 13.1 percent of British women who said they regularly over-indulged. The figure for Portuguese women was 2.7 percent for women. Both Portuguese men and women enjoyed the second lowest rates (only Spanish males fared better with 4.8 percent while only 2.4 percent of Polish women said they would have six drinks or more in an evening). Greek males topped the list with 50 percent, followed their Cypriot counterparts with 48.1 percent.
In Europe, alcohol is the third leading risk factor for disease and mortality after tobacco and high blood pressure, according to WHO research published in 2009.
The European Union is the region with the highest alcohol consumption in the world.
In 2009, average adult (aged 15+ years) alcohol consumption in the EU was 12.5 litres of pure alcohol – 27g of pure alcohol or nearly three drinks a day, more than double the world average.
Although there are many individual country differences, alcohol consumption in the EU as a whole has continued at a stable level over the past decade.
The harms from drinking disproportionately affect poorer people, researchers also found.
Socially disadvantaged people and people who live in socially disadvantaged areas experience more harm from the same dose of alcohol than those who are better off.
The real absolute risk of dying from an adverse alcohol-related condition increases with the total amount of alcohol consumed over a lifetime. Most alcohol is drunk in heavy drinking occasions, which worsen all risks, including ischaemic heart disease and sudden death.
Alcohol can diminish individual health and human capital throughout the lifespan from the embryo to old age. In absolute terms, it is mostly middle-aged people (men in particular) who die from alcohol.
The adolescent brain is particularly susceptible to alcohol, and the longer the onset of consumption is delayed, the less likely it is that alcohol related problems and alcohol dependence will emerge in adult life.
In the EU in 2004, conservative estimates indicate that almost 95,000 men and over 25,000 women aged between 15 and 64 years died of alcohol-attributable causes (total 120 000, corresponding to 11.8 percent of all deaths in this age category).
This means that one in seven male deaths and one in 13 female deaths in this age category were caused by alcohol.
Researchers also found that countries of southern Europe (Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain) have a Mediterranean drinking pattern.
In the south of the EU wine has traditionally been produced and drunk, characterised by almost daily drinking of alcohol (often wine with meals), avoidance of irregular heavy drinking and no acceptance of public drunkenness.