More data needed on alcoholism in PH

05:02 AM September 09, 2019

There is a scarcity of published data on the extent of alcoholism in the Philippines. While there is no official record available, the effects or consequences of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence are seen in communities. Alcoholism is not usually perceived as a medical problem by most Filipinos. Thus, Filipinos with alcohol problems do not submit themselves for treatment and rehabilitation.

The Philippine General Hospital’s (PGH) unofficial statistics show that only one male was admitted in 2016. However, a huge rise in the number of cases was seen in 2018 — a total of
14 male patients were admitted. The majority of these patients came from the lower-income sector.


Hospital admission depends on the severity of signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Most of the time, the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (Ciwa) scale is used to quantify the severity of these symptoms. A higher rating on the Ciwa scale means longer days in the hospital, as the medical team needs more time to treat the patient’s symptoms. In PGH, the average number of days in the hospital was 5.29 or roughly six days (unofficial statistics). The shortest length of stay was one day, while the longest length of hospital admission was 12 days.

Aside from direct economic loss from time lost due to hospital admission, the government (through PhilHealth and other funding agencies such as Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office) spent P2,800 to P30,000 for hospital admissions and treatment in 2018. The average hospital cost was P12,166, or about P2,300 per day.


More data are needed to ascertain the burden of alcoholism in the Philippines. However, even with little data, the government can enact effective alcohol control policies. Treatment of alcohol-related health problems can also be done in the community to reach more people at the grassroots level and prevent overcrowding in government hospitals, which are already operating above their capacities. Policy, structure and resources are needed in order for this to materialize.

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