Prevalence of substance use disorders in an urban and a rural area in Suriname

Raj Jadnanansing*, Matthijs Blankers, Rudi Dwarkasing, Kajal Etwaroo, Vincent Lumsden, Jack Dekker, Robbert Bipat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Alcohol use disorders (AUD) have the worst impact in low-middle-income countries (LMICs), where the disease burden per liter of alcohol consumed is higher than in wealthy populations. Furthermore, the median treatment gap for AUDs in LMICs is 78.1%. The highest prevalence of AUDs worldwide in 2004 was found in the western Pacific region, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. The main aim of this study was to estimate and compare the prevalence of risky alcohol use and the extent of the treatment gap in a rural (Nickerie) and in an urban (Paramaribo) area in Suriname, a LMICs country with a wide variety of ethnic groups. Methods: The respondents were randomly recruited using a specific sampling method of the National Census Bureau. The final samples were 1837 households for Paramaribo and 1026 for Nickerie, reflecting the populations in both regions. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) and the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) were used to assess the likelihood of the presence of alcohol use disorder. A score of > 7 for the AUDIT implies risky alcohol use. Results: The results indicated that 2% of the women and 15% of the men in the rural area scored 8 or higher on the AUDIT. In the urban area, these numbers were 3% and 17%, respectively. In both samples, the men had the highest addiction risk at about 16% compared with 2% for females. Married persons are significantly less likely to become alcoholic than singles and other groups in Paramaribo. In both areas, higher education was associated with a lower probability of alcohol abuse and dependence, while handymen showed a higher odd. A treatment gap of 50% was found for alcohol use disorders in the rural area. The corresponding gap in the urban area was 64%. Conclusions: Surinamese men show a high prevalence of the likelihood of AUD. In addition, the treatment gap for these possible patients is large. It is therefore of paramount importance to develop therapeutic strategies with the aim of tackling this physically and mentally disabling disorder. Tailored E-health programs may be of benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalTropical Medicine and Health
Issue number1
Early online date2 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Population-based study
  • Suriname
  • Treatment gap


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