Do the Swiss have a drinking problem?

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Do the Swiss have a drinking problem?
Beer in Treib, Switzerland. Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

Most people enjoy alcoholic beverages on special occasions and the odd boozy night in good company, but just how much alcohol do the Swiss consume on average?


According to Sucht Schweiz, an independent, non-profit foundation that aims to prevent or reduce problems associated with the use of psychoactive substances and addictive behaviours, around 85 percent of the Swiss population aged 15 and over drink alcohol more or less regularly.

Beer most popular alcoholic beverage

The Federal Office for Customs and Border Security found that in 2020 the annual per capita consumption of beer in Switzerland was 52.8 litres and though that number seems low compared to other countries in Europe – the average Czech Republic citizen is estimated to drink 129 litres of beer per year – hardly any other country has as many breweries per inhabitant as Switzerland.

Swiss breweries produced some 3.68 million hectolitres of beer in 2022 and the Swiss drank some 4.73 hectolitres of beer that year.

Though beer is arguably Switzerland’s most popular alcoholic beverage, in 2020, Swiss men and women also consumed on average 31.5 litres of wine, 3.8 litres of spirits and 1.6 litres of fruit wine.


Do the Swiss abuse alcohol frequently?

Though the majority of people living in Switzerland consume alcoholic beverages responsibly, around every fifth person in Switzerland abuses alcohol, according to the Federal Office of Public Health. This means that they regularly consume alcohol too much, too often or at the wrong time.

Of that, almost 5 percent of the Swiss population take part in so-called binge drinking - drinking a lot of alcohol in one sitting.  

white wine drinks party

How much do the Swiss drink? (Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash)

For almost 16 percent of the population - 11.1 percent women and 20.7 percent men - this is selective high-risk consumption, with 4 or more (women) or 5 or more (men) standard glasses being drunk on one occasion at least once a month.

According to the Federal Office of Public Health, an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 people in Switzerland are alcohol dependent and around every third person in Switzerland knows at least one person with alcohol problems in their environment.

But it’s not all bad news. During 2022, it was reported that the consumption of alcohol-free beer in Switzerland rose by 20 percent.

What about Switzerland’s youth?

The alcohol consumption among young people up to the age of 15 in Switzerland has decreased in recent years. However, between the ages of 15 and 25 alcohol consumption tends to increase sharply.

Around every fourth young person in Switzerland (23.9 percent) between the ages of 15 and 19 state that they consume too much alcohol at least once a month. Among the 20- to 34-year-olds this number is even higher at 25 percent. In both age groups, alcohol consumption occurs mainly on weekends.

How much does drinking alcohol cost Switzerland?

Alcohol abuse costs the Swiss economy around 2.8 billion francs annually and can lead to acute injuries, accidents, and even violent outbursts. However, by far the largest issue is productivity loss: an estimated 2.1 billion francs in costs are incurred due to premature death, illness, or early retirement in connection with alcohol consumption and abuse.


The direct costs in the healthcare system amount to 477 million francs and are incurred in the treatment of alcohol-related illnesses, accidents, and addiction treatment.

Furthermore, 215 million francs is spent on law enforcement, specifically the police, judiciary, and criminal prosecution in connection with those abusing both alcohol and the law.


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