International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 107–117 | Cite as

Times to drink: cross-cultural variations in drinking in the rhythm of the week

  • Robin Room
  • Pia Mäkelä
  • Vivek Benegal
  • Thomas K. Greenfield
  • Siri Hettige
  • Nazarius M. Tumwesigye
  • Richard Wilsnack
Original Article



The time of drinking in terms of daytime versus evening and weekday versus weekend is charted for regular drinkers in 14 countries in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Oceania.


National or regional adult population surveys from the GENACIS project.


The weekly rhythm of drinking varies greatly between societies. Drinking was generally more likely after 5 p.m. and on weekends. To this extent, alcohol consumption is now regulated by a universal clock. The relation of time of day and of the week of drinking to problems from drinking varied between societies. Drinking at specific times was more likely to predict problems among men than women, though for men the particular time varied, while weekday evenings were the most problematic time for women. The relation of drinking at a particular time to problems in part reflected that heavy drinkers were more likely to be drinking at that time.


There are commonalities across cultures in drinking by time of day and day of the week, but the implications of the timing for alcohol-related problems are fairly culture-specific.


Cross-cultural Alcohol consumption Drinking times Temporal rhythm Alcohol problems Gender Time of day Weekend 



The data used in this paper are from the project, Gender, Alcohol and Culture: An International Study (GENACIS). GENACIS is a collaborative international project affiliated with the Kettil Bruun Society for Social and Epidemiological Research on Alcohol and coordinated by GENACIS partners from the University of North Dakota, Aarhus University, the Alcohol Research Group/Public Health Institute, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, and Addiction Info Switzerland Research Institute. Support for aspects of the project comes from the World Health Organization, the Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources Programme of the European Commission (Concerted Action QLG4-CT-2001-0196), the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (Grants R21 AA012941 and R01 AA015775), the German Federal Ministry of Health, the Pan American Health Organization, and Swiss national funds. Support for individual country surveys was provided by government agencies and other national sources. The study leaders and funding sources for data sets used in this report are: Brazil: Florence Kerr-Correa, Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paolo; Costa Rica: Julio Bejerano, World Health Organization (WHO); Hungary: Zsuzsanna Elekes, Ministry of Youth and Sport; India: Vivek Benegal, WHO; Isle of Man: Martin and Moira Plant, Isle of Man Medical Research and University of the West of England; Japan: Shiunji Shimuzu, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; Kazakhstan: Bedel Sarbayev, WHO; New Zealand: Jennie Connor, Otago University Research Grant; Nicaragua: José Trinidad Caldera Aburto, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); Nigeria: Akanidomo Ibanga, WHO; Peru: Marina Piazza, PAHO; Sri Lanka: Siri Hettige, WHO; Uganda: M. Nazarius Tumwesigye, WHO; UK: Martin Plant, Moira Plant (Alcohol Education and Research Council; European Forum for Responsible Drinking; University of the West of England).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


  1. Alcser K, Bowers A, Clemens J, Granda P, Hansen SE, Hubbard F, Levenstein R, Lien C, Mneimneh Z, Orlowski R, Pennell BE, Harkness J, Bilgen I, Villar A, Caspar R, Peytcheva E (2008) Cross-cultural survey guidelines: full guidelines. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Accessed 24 Jan 2010
  2. Arfken CL (1988) The temporal pattern of alcohol consumption in the United States. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 12:137–142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Assanangkornchai S, Saunders HB, Conigrave KM (2000) Patterns of drinking in Thai men. Alcohol Alcohol 35:263–269PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bischof G, Grothues J, Reinhardt S, John U, Meyer C, Ulbricht S, Rumpf HJ (2007) Alcohol screening in general practices using the AUDIT: how many response categories are necessary? Eur Addict Res 13:25–30PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bondy SJ, Lange P (2000) Measuring alcohol related harm: test retest reliability of a popular measure. Subst Use Misuse 35:1263–1275PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brabazon T, Mallinder S (2007) Into the night-time economy: work, leisure, urbanity and the creative industries. Nebula 4:161–178. Accessed 10 Oct 2010Google Scholar
  7. Briscoe S, Donnelly N (2003) Problematic licensed premises for assault in inner Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. Aust N Z J Criminol 36:18–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chongsuvivatwong V, Ritsmitchal S, Suriyawongpaisal P, Chariyalertsak S, Kosuwan W, Punyaratabandhu P, Sutiwipakorn W (1999) High prevalence of drink-driving in Thailand. Drug Alcohol Rev 18:293–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Corfitsen MT (1996) Enhanced tiredness among young impaired male night time drivers. Accid Anal Prev 28:155–162PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dawson DA (1996) Temporal drinking patterns and variation in social consequences. Addiction 91:1623–1635PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dawson D (2000) Drinking patterns among individuals with and without DSM-IV alcohol use disorders. J Stud Alcohol 61:111–120PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dhalla S, Kopec JA (2007) The CAGE questionnaire for alcohol misuse: a review of reliability and validity studies. Clin Invest Med 30:33–41PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Fabbri A, Marchesini G, Morselli-Labate AM, Rossi F, Cicognani A, Dente M et al (2002) Positive blood alcohol concentration and road accidents: a prospective study in an Italian emergency department. Emerg Med J 19:210–214PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gmel G, Heeb J-L, Rehm J (2001) Is frequency of drinking an indicator of problem drinking? A psychometric analysis of a modified version of the alcohol use disorders identification test in Switzerland. Drug Alcohol Depend 64:151–163PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Greenfield TK, Room R (1997) Situational norms for drinking and drunkenness: trends in the US adult population, 1979–1990. Addiction 92:33–47PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grekin ER, Sher KJ, Krull JL (2007) College spring break and alcohol use: effects of spring break activity. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 68:681–688PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Gusfield J (1991) Benevolent repression: popular culture, social structure, and the control of drinking. In: Barrows S, Room R (eds) Drinking: behavior and belief in modern history. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 398–424Google Scholar
  18. Heeb JL, Gmel G, Rehm J, Mohler-Kuo M (2008) Exploring daily variations of drinking in the Swiss general population: a growth curve analysis. Int J Method Psych 17:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hijar M, Flores M, Lopez MV, Rosovsky H (1998) Alcohol intake and severity of injuries on highways in Mexico: a comparative analysis. Addiction 93:1543–1551PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jula A, Seppänen R, Alanen E (1999) Influence of days of the week on reported food, macronutrient and alcohol intake among an adult population in south western Finland. Eur J Clin Nutr 52:808–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kasantikul V, Ouellet JV, Smith T, Sirathranont J, Panichabhongse V (2005) The role of alcohol in Thailand motorcycle crashes. Accid Anal Prev 37:357–366PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Keall MD, Frith WJ, Patterson TL (2005) The contribution of alcohol to night time crash risk and other risks of night driving. Accid Anal Prev 37:816–824PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leifman H (2002) A comparative analysis of drinking patterns in six EU countries in 2000. Contemp Drug Probl 29:501–548Google Scholar
  24. Lopes C, Andreozzi VL, Ramos E, Sa’ Carvalho M (2008) Modelling over week patterns of alcohol consumption. Alcohol Alcohol 43:215–222PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Luo HR, Konishi T, Tsuang J, Wan YJY (2006) Comparison of alcohol drinking behaviors and associated problems between benders and nonbenders in Mexican Americans who drink excessively. Addict Disord Treat 5:121–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mäkelä P, Martikainen P, Nihtilä E (2005) Temporal variation in deaths related to alcohol intoxication and drinking. Int J Epidemiol 34:765–771PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mazrui AA (1978) Idi Amin versus Jimmy Carter: a moral cleavage between North and South? vol 19. Trialogue, New York, pp 8–10, 35–36.
  28. McDermott FT, Hughes ES (1983) Drink-driver casualties in Victoria: peak periods on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Med J Australia 1:606–608PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Miller TR, Spicer RS, Levy DT (1999) How intoxicated are drivers in the United States? Estimating the extent, risks and costs per kilometer of driving by blood alcohol level. Accid Anal Prev 31:515–523PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Philip P, Vervialle F, Le Breton P, Taillard J, Horne JA (2001) Fatigue, alcohol, and serious road crashes in France: factorial study of national data. Brit Med J 322:829–830PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rehm J, Frick U, Bondy S (1999) Reliability and validity analysis of an alcohol-related harm scale for surveys. J Stud Alcohol 60:203–208PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Reinert DF, Allen JP (2002) The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): a review of recent research. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 26:272–279PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sadoun R, Lolli G, Silverman M (1965) Drinking in French culture. Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, Monograph No. 5, New Brunswick, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  34. Sharma A, Khandelwal SK (2000) Women with alcohol-related problems in Nepal. Addiction 95:1105–1108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shields AL, Caruso JC (2004) A reliability induction and reliability generalization study of the CAGE questionnaire. Educ Psychol Meas 64:254–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sieri S, Agudo A, Kesse E, Klipstein-Grobusch K, San-José B, Welch AA, Krogh V, Luben R, Allen N, Overvad K, Tjønneland A, Clavel-Chapelon F, Thiébaud A, Miller AB, Boeing H, Kolyva M, Saieva C, Celentano E, Ocké MC, Peeters PHM, Brustad M, Kumle M, Dorronsoro M, Fernandez Feito A, Mattisson I, Weinehall L, Riboli E, Slimani N (2002) Patterns of alcohol consumption in 10 European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) project. Public Health Nutr 5:1287–1296PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Silm S, Ahas R (2005) Seasonality of alcohol related phenomena in Estonia. Int J Biometeorol 49:1232–1254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Simpura J (1987) A typical autumn week’s drinking. In: Simpura J (ed) Finnish drinking habits: results from interview surveys held in 1968, 1976 and 1984, vol 35. Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, Helsinki, pp 78–103Google Scholar
  39. Stivers R (1976) A hair of the dog: Irish drinking and American stereotype. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
  40. Vegega ME, Klein TM (1991) Annual and New Year’s Day alcohol-related traffic fatalities—United States, 1982–1990. Morb Mortal Wkl Report (MMWR) 40:821–825Google Scholar
  41. Wells S, Graham K (2003) Aggression involving alcohol: relationship to drinking patterns and social context. Addiction 98:33–42PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wilsnack RW, Wilsnack SC, Kristjanson AF, Vogeltanz-Holm ND, Gmel G (2009) Gender and alcohol consumption: patterns from the multinational GENACIS project. Addiction 104:1487–1500PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Young DJ, Stockwell T, Cherpitel CJ, Ye Y, Macdonald S, Borges G, Giesbrecht N (2004) Emergency room injury presentations as an indicator of alcohol-related problems in the community: a multilevel analysis of an international study. J Stud Alcohol 65:605–612PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Zerubavel E (1989) The seven day circle: the history and meaning of the week. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin Room
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Pia Mäkelä
    • 4
  • Vivek Benegal
    • 5
  • Thomas K. Greenfield
    • 6
  • Siri Hettige
    • 7
  • Nazarius M. Tumwesigye
    • 8
  • Richard Wilsnack
    • 9
  1. 1.School of Population HealthUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.AER Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug CentreFitzroyAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and DrugsStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  4. 4.National Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.National Institute of Mental Health and NeurosciencesBangaloreIndia
  6. 6.Alcohol Research GroupPublic Health InstituteEmeryvilleUSA
  7. 7.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of ColomboColomboSri Lanka
  8. 8.School of Public HealthMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  9. 9.Department of Clinical NeuroscienceUniversity of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health SciencesGrand ForksUSA

Personalised recommendations