Finnish drinking habits confronted by new reality TV show

wineA new television series entitled Lupaus (Promise) is to be launched by Finnish broadcaster YLE and will feature everyday Finns in a five-week pledge to give up drinking alcohol. According to the show’s resident physician, it is middle-aged females in Finland that have the most difficulty in admitting that they may have a drinking problem.

In 2006 Finland saw alcohol become the leading cause of death for the first time, overtaking heart disease. Up until the 1960s almost all alcohol in Finland was consumed by men, but recent decades have seen a huge rise in consumption by women. Today, 10 percent of Finnish women account for half of all the alcohol consumed by females.

The new programme’s substance abuse specialist Juha Kemppinen claimed that the hardest part of sourcing participants was convincing middle-aged women to come forward. The series generally sought individuals from both sexes whose alcohol intake could be qualified as excessive by medical standards.

“This says something about our culture and how openly we can talk about alcohol abuse,” said Kemppinen who added that one of the goals of the series was to encourage openness and honesty amongst Finns who traditionally remain quiet on the subject to avoid potential stigmatisation.

“Doctors have an inside joke that if you multiply the number of alcohol servings a person says he or she consumes by between three and seven, you’ll be closer to the actual number,” claimed Kemppinen.

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