The prevalence and correlates of alcohol use and alcohol use disorders: a population based study in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Helena M S Zavos, Sisira Siribaddana, Harriet A Ball, Michael T Lynskey, Athula Sumathipala, Frühling V Rijsdijk, Matthew Hotopf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Alcohol use is increasing in non-Western countries. However, the effects of this increase on the prevalence of alcohol use disorders (AUD) remains unknown, particularly in South Asia. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of alcohol use and AUD in the Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Environmental risk factors and psychiatric correlates were also examined.

METHODS: The Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to assess alcohol use and psychiatric disorders in a population based sample of 6014 twins and singletons in the Colombo region of Sri Lanka.

RESULTS: Lifetime alcohol use on 12 or more occasions was estimated at 63.1 % (95 % CI: 61.3-64.9) in men and 3.7 % (95 % CI: 3.0-4.3) in women. Prevalence of lifetime alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence in men was 6.2 % (95 % CI: 5.3-7.1) and 4.0 % (95 % CI: 3.3-4.7) respectively. Lower standard of living was independently associated with alcohol use and dependence but not abuse. Significant associations between lifetime AUD and other psychiatric disorders were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Lower prevalence of alcohol use and AUD was observed compared to Western countries. Prevalence of alcohol use and AUD were higher than previous reports. Socio-demographic and environmental risk factors appear to be similar across cultures as were associations between AUD and other psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking/epidemiology
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders/epidemiology
  • Alcoholism/epidemiology
  • Diseases in Twins/epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sri Lanka/epidemiology
  • Twins/statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult


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