AIMS: (a) To compare acute negative consequences for people who drink a given amount of alcohol on few occasions (concentrators) per week in comparison with the consequences for people who drink the same amount on more days in a week (spreaders). (b) To investigate whether these associations are cross-culturally stable. METHODS: Analysis is based on general population surveys of adults conducted in 7 European countries. RESULTS: It appeared that more drinking occasions in many countries lead to more consequences independent of the volume consumed. Risky single-occasion drinking was to be associated with higher risks for immediate health consequences and legal problems, accidents and fights. Among older respondents the same frequency pattern appeared, with the exception of immediate health consequences among women. Hence, more regular drinking seemed to have more beneficial effects on older individuals compared to younger ones, which may be related to the different drinking situation: younger people mostly drinking outside the home. Amongst the younger people, frequent drinking seemed to be associated with more acute consequences. Cultural and methodological variations must be taken into account. CONCLUSION: Even so, it is concluded that the credibility of these findings is strengthened by differences in the methods of the surveys.