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Alcoholism Statistics

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Alcohol is a psychoactive substance, with dependence-producing properties, that is widely consumed by people of all ages. Drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly can have adverse short- and long-term effects on the drinker. Sadly, the alcoholism statistics for the US show a shocking prevalence of alcohol misuse.

General Alcoholism Statistics:

Alcoholism in the US is more rampant than people realize. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health [1] reported that approximately 16 million Americans were heavy alcohol users, and 14.5 million Americans had an alcohol use disorder [2].

 Data from the 2021 NSDUH [3] showed that for adults 18 years and older:

·        213.2 million adults (84.0% in this age group) reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime

·        169.7 million adults (66.9% in this age group) claimed to have drunk in the past year

·        131.2 million adults (51.7% in this age group) reported that they drank in the past month

·        16.2 million adults (6.4% in this age group) disclosed that they struggled with heavy alcohol use in the past month

People wonder exactly how many people are alcoholics. In 2019, NSDUH estimated that 14.5 million people ages 12 and older had an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder - the clinical term for alcoholism or alcohol addiction). They also discovered that around 414,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 had an AUD.

This chart shows the drinking frequency of US adults:



What are the Effects of Alcohol?

The specific side effects of alcohol vary according to the age and gender of the person who consumes the alcohol, as well as other factors. There are many alcohol facts and statistics which detail the prevalence and unpleasant side-effects of alcoholism among different ages, genders, races, and more.

According to US law, alcohol is prohibited to anyone under the age of 21 years old. However, data has shown that many children and young adults do consume alcohol regularly, despite the legal ramifications and the adverse effects on their health.

It should be noted that alcoholism is prevalent in different forms, each with varying levels of short and long-term danger. Drinking a bit more than the recommended units of alcohol once in a while may not be very bad for your health, but both binge drinking and heavy drinking can cause significant health damage.  Binge drinking is classified as having at least 5 drinks for a man or 4 drinks for a woman in around 2 hours, while heavy drinking for men means consuming 15 or more drinks per week, and for women 8 or more per week.

The consequences of alcoholism are vast and far-reaching.

  • On a personal level, consuming more than the recommended amount of alcohol regularly can lead to many health complications, like liver cirrhosis, some cancers, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as other mental and behavioral issues. 
  • Many injuries take place because of alcoholism, including vehicle accidents, violence, and suicide.
  • The loved ones and friends of an alcoholic also suffer indirectly. 
  • Society as a whole is also negatively affected by the prevalent alcoholism in our communities. 

There are many alcoholism statistics that show the shocking prevalence and unpleasant effects of alcoholism.

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Underage Drinking Statistics

The alcohol abuse statistics for underage drinkers are staggering. There are many additional complications that children experience when consuming too much alcohol. Some of the side-effects and problems include:

·        Legal issues - arrest for driving or injuring someone

·        Social problems - lack of participation in social activities

·        Physical illness - hangovers and other long-term physical issues

·        Increased risk of violence, injury and/or suicide

·        Memory problems and other irreversible changes in the brain

·        Misusing other dangerous and illegal substances

A report from the CDC [4] disclosed that underage alcoholism is the cause of death in 3,900 people under age 21 every year. Alcoholism is also responsible for an estimated 210,000 years of potential life lost in young people under age 21 every year. These alcohol addiction statistics show a disturbing trend in underage drinking in the US. 

According to NSDUH 2021 research for youth ages 12 to 17:

·        6.0 million youth (22.9% in this age group) claimed that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime.

·        4.6 million youth (17.8% in this age group) reported that they drank in the past year.

·        1.8 million youth (7.0% in this age group) responded that they drank in the past month.

·        103,000 youth (0.4% in this age group) admitted to heavy alcohol use in the past month.


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Factors that Contribute to Alcoholism

Many people are at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. Some factors that contribute to an alcohol addiction include:

·        Psychological factors - People struggling with a mental health problem may turn to alcohol to numb their daily emotional pain and struggles, making them more likely to suffer from an alcohol addiction. More than 40% of bipolar sufferers either abuse or are dependent on alcohol, and approximately 20% of people struggling with depression or abuse are dependent on alcohol.

·        Personality factors - People who have less inhibitions or are quicker to take risks are usually more in danger of developing an AUD. Personality can play a role in other ways too. For example, a more reserved person may turn to alcohol to remove some of their natural inhibitions in social settings.

·        History of drinking - People who have a long history of drinking are a lot more likely to develop an alcohol addiction. Additionally, people who start drinking from a younger age are more likely to suffer from AUD later on. According to a study on 43,000 American adults from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 47% of the respondents who developed alcoholism in their adult lives met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence by the age of 21.

·        Genetic factors - Data has proven that genetics play the largest role in causing alcohol addiction in people. In fact, at least 51 genes have been discovered to impact alcoholism. It is interesting to note that biological children of alcoholics are more likely to develop AUD than other children, even if they were not brought up by their biological parents.

·        Environmental factors - Families with more wealth are at greater risk of having an alcohol addiction. This may be because alcohol is more expensive than other beverages. In the United States, 78% of individuals with annual household incomes of $75,000 a year consume alcohol, whereas only 45% of individuals with an annual household income less than $30,000 drink.

·        Education factors - Alcohol statistics show that 80% of college graduates in the United States drink alcohol, in comparison to only 52% of individuals who did not attend college. This suggests that young adults who have received a higher level of education are more likely to become addicted to alcohol.

How Society is Affected by Alcoholism

Although thankfully not everyone has a loved one, close friend, or other significant acquaintance suffering from alcohol abuse disorder, the unfortunate reality of alcoholism in our societies negatively impacts us all, unbeknownst to many. There are several aspects to the strain on society caused by alcoholism, including the healthcare system, schools, the workplace, and the wider community.

There is a common misconception that alcoholism puts a strain on our economy because of the high taxes levied by the government on alcohol. The reality is that the economy struggles because people dealing with an alcohol abuse addiction are often unable to work due to health complications, hangovers, severe injuries and other alcohol-related absences, impacting the overall economy.

The NHS in the United Kingdom have reported that they spend £25 billion on alcohol and alcohol-related illnesses in their treatment centers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cost of alcoholism in the U.S. alone reaches $249 billion annually - 77% of which is attributed to binge drinking. Altogether, an estimated $28 billion is spent each year just on alcohol-related health care. This includes treatment for physical and mental issues caused by excessive drinking like cardiovascular and digestive diseases, cancers, psychiatric conditions, and other issues.

An increase of violence is another common effect of alcoholism on society. Additionally, there is an increase in child neglect and abuse when one or both parents struggle with alcohol addiction, and an increase in FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), a permanent disease that children are born with when their mothers drink alcohol excessively during pregnancy.

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Alcohol Overdose Statistics:

Alcohol consumption is a causal factor in over 200 diseases and injuries, including infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and many other mental, behavioral, emotional, and physical disorders. Drinking excessive alcohol in a short amount of time can shut down critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate and body temperature leading to death.

The alcohol overdose statistics are unfortunate. According to WHO (World Health Organization), 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol worldwide, accounting for 5.3% of all deaths. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) report that:

·        An average of 6 people die of alcohol poisoning each day in the US.

·        76% (3 in 4) of alcohol poisoning deaths are among adults ages 35 to 64.

·        About 76% of those who die from alcohol poisoning are men.

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Alcohol Treatment Statistics

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported in 2020 that an estimated 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than 10% of them receive treatment. Although there are many treatment options for alcohol use disorder, like alcohol rehab, AA (Alcohol Anonymous) support groups, one-on-one talk therapy, among other options, only a very small percentage of people struggling with an alcohol addiction actually seek help.

Stopping Alcohol Addiction in its Tracks

Alcohol use disorder is much more common than people realize. Whereas drugs are often illegal in many states, alcohol is not, causing more people to access it and then to become addicted. It affects millions of people worldwide, regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, and other factors. 

The good news is that you don’t have to continue struggling, risking your mental, emotional, and physical health. There are excellent residential addiction treatment and IOP addiction treatment options out there that can help you stay sober for life, if you are willing to put in the necessary work. Additionally, although alcoholism is a chronic condition with no cure, the longer you stay sober, the lower your chances of relapsing. However hard the recovery process is, it’s worth it!

Reach out to Avenues Recovery to find out about your local options and start your recovery journey today. Contact us via the website, or call us anytime on 603-207-3154. A better, sober life is waiting for you!

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