Substance use disorders (SUDs) are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, having a profound and global impact on health, well-being, safety, and productivity. Although traditionally the prevalence of SUDs in Israel has been estimated to be lower than those in high-income countries, estimates and characteristics of individuals with SUDs in the past decade are lacking. In this work, we explored the prevalence of SUDs among the adult Jewish population in Israel, per different classes of substances across sex, age group, and other sociodemographic factors.
Data from an online representative sample of 4,025 respondents were collected, including the alcohol, smoking, and substance involvement screening test (ASSIST) metric and sociodemographic data.
We found that the most common SUDs were alcohol (10.5% [9.5-11.4]), cannabis (9.0% [8.2-9.9]), and sedative (3.6% [3.0-4.2]) use disorders. Alcohol-cannabis (3.2% [2.7-3.7]) and alcohol-sedative (1.04% [0.7-1.35]) were the most prevalent co-occurring SUDs. Among those with cannabis use disorder, the prevalence of alcohol use disorder was found to be 35.3% [30.4-40.2]. The estimated risk for alcohol use disorder was found to be inversely proportional to age, cannabis use disorder increased, peaked, and decreased with age, and that of sedative use disorder increased with age, particularly among women. While older individuals (in the 51-60 years of age group) were at lower risk (OR = 0.5 [0.3, 0.8]) compared to those <20 years of age for alcohol use disorder, they were at increased risk for sedative use disorder (OR = 3.1 [1.2, 9.7]).
These findings represent substantially higher rates of SUDs in Israel than those previously reported and should affect resources allocated to addiction prevention and treatment. Further research on the role of gender, age, culture, and ethnicity in the propensity to develop SUDs is necessary for the development of more focused preventive and intervention measures. Focusing on non-Jewish populations in Israel and broadening the scope to include behavioral addictions should be addressed in future studies.

© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel.