The survey of 4,000 people, carried out by market research group GfK, concluded that around 200,000 Austrians are prone to excessive drinking.
"Illegal drugs and gambling are less of a problem," conference organizer Gabriele Fischer of Vienna’s University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy said.
According to OECD figures Austrians drink 1.1 litres more alcohol than the EU average – equivalent to 12.2 litres of alcohol per person ever year. Only Lithuanians (12.7 litres) and Estonians (12.3 litres) drink more. In comparison, the wine-loving French drink 11.8 litres per person every year, and the Italians only 6.1 litres.
"Even if such comparative data should be treated with caution – it's a fact that alcohol consumption is high in Austria and deeply rooted in society. Our study clearly shows this," Rudolf Bretschneider from GfK Austria said.
According to the GfK survey, only one in ten Austrians did not have anything to drink in the past 12 months. 39 percent of men and 15 percent of women said they drank alcohol two to three times a week or more often. Only one in three said they only had an alcoholic drink once a month.
Nine percent admitted to getting really drunk twice a month – which based on the survey sample equates to 650,000 people.
Almost half of those questioned said that they felt that the people they socialised with drank too much. Six percent of men and one percent of women admitted to drinking six or more glasses of alcohol at least twice a week.
"This suggests that around 200,000 people regularly drink a considerable amount of alcohol – and fall into the ‘binge drinker’ category,” Bretschneider said.
Unemployed people and unskilled or semi-skilled workers are particularly prone to binge drinking, the survey showed. GfK said that binge drinking was not confined to adolescents and young people but affected all ages.
"On average three percent of all age groups admitted to excessive drinking, although the elderly said they tended to do it in private,” Bretschneider said.
The symposium on addiction will also hold a panel discussion with legal experts on cannabis therapy.
Organiser Gabriele Fischer said they would explore whether cannabis could be used as a treatment for pain. “Germany is talking about legalizing cannabis as a medicine for prescription in 2016 and the USA has already done so in 20 states,” she said.