Half of all adults in Iran regularly drink alcohol despite it being banned by the Islamic regime, a survey by Iran Open Data has found. Moreover, the largest number said they preferred to consume homemade beverages.
In the study, 48 percent of the 2,000 participants said they were drinkers. When asked about drinking frequency, 24 percent of participants reported that they “sometimes” drank, while nine percent said they drank ‘weekly’ and six percent said they indulged “daily”. A total of 52 percent of participants said they did not drink alcohol.
Iranians were also divided on their tipple of choice. Of those that drank, just over half said they preferred wine and beer, while 49% favoured distilled drinks such as raisin moonshine, which is commonly referred to as arak saggi (dog sweat).
The survey also investigated how Iranians prepare their alcoholic beverages. More than 51 per cent bought homemade alcohol, while 28 percent made it themselves. The other 20 percent said they bought bottled or canned booze.
The risk of poisoning or other dangerous side effects can be higher for those who consume homemade alcohol. But there is no guarantee that packaged and distributed products in cans or bottles are not counterfeit, since there is no quality control or regulation of alcohol in Iran.
At least 627 Iranians died due to alcohol consumption in 2019, according to the head of the country’s Forensic Medicine Organization. Most of these deaths were attributed to methanol, a highly toxic byproduct of the distillation process.
With alcohol strictly forbidden in the Islamic Republic, there are virtually no official statistics or academic studies on the volume and patterns of alcohol intake. In 2018, a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) ranked Iran ninth among 189 countries for alcohol consumption per capita. It found that those aged over 15, who regularly drank alcohol, consumed an average of 28.4 litres of pure alcohol in 2016 – up from six liters in 2010.
Iranian state media responded to WHO’s report by claiming that 96 percent of the population had never consumed alcohol.