2019 Statistics You Need to Know About Alcoholism


Alcoholism is a disorder which afflicts millions of Americans every year with a range of complications. It is estimated that more than 7% of adults in the US are affected by alcoholism to varying degrees of severity ranging from issues with physical and mental to health to financial and social stability. Here are statistics you should know regarding the broad and far reaching implications of alcoholism:

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD):

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is defined by scientists as a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over intake of alcohol, and a negative emotional state (withdrawal) when not actively consuming. Over 15 million adults (ages 18 and older) have AUD; 6.7% received treatment for it in the past year. It is estimated that over 620,000 young people  ages 12-17 have AUD with about 5.2% of these individuals receiving treatment in the past year.

Prevalence & Binge Drinking:

Binge drinking can be defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that raises blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 and above. This occurs typically after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men within a 2-hour period of time. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 70% of adults (18 or older) report that they drank alcohol in the past year and 56% report they drank in the past month. About 27% of adults report they engaged in binge drinking in the past month and 7% report engaging in heavy alcohol use in the past month.

Economic Burden:

Excessive drinking costs the United States nearly $250 billion each year or about $2.05 per drink with the majority of costs being attributed to binge drinking. The leading costs are in workplace productivity (72% of the total cost), health care expenses for treating complications caused by excessive drinking (11% of total), law enforcement and related criminal justice costs (10%), and loses from motor vehicle accidents related to excessive alcohol use (5%).

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Impact on Family and Children:

In regards to family relations, incidents of physical abuse between couples involves the use of alcohol more than 60% of the time. It is also estimated that more than 10% of children in the United States reside or have custody with a parent who experiences issues related to alcohol use. Children who drink alcohol before the age of 15 are nearly 6 times more likely to develop alcohol problems in life than those who begin drinking at or after the age of 21.

Underage Drinking:

About 33% of 15-year-olds report that they have had at least 1 drink in their lives; over 7 million people ages 12-20 have reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Regarding binge and heavy alcohol use, over 13% of people ages 12-20 reported binge drinking in the past month and over 3% of people with this age group report heavy alcohol use in the past month. Research indicates that the use of alcohol during teenage years can have adverse effects in regards to cognitive development and increases the risk of developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

Effects on the Body:

The long-term abuse of alcohol, as well as isolated incidents of extreme/binge use, can have long lasting and often irreversible effects on physical health. An estimated 3.5% of all cancer deaths in the United States were alcohol related. Individuals who consume approximately 3.5 or more drinks per day have more than 2 times the greater risk of developing oral and throat cancers than nondrinkers and almost twice the risk of developing colorectal cancer over nondrinkers. For women, the consumption of approximately 3 drinks per day resulted 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer as compared to nondrinkers.

Alcohol related deaths & Impaired Driving:

It is estimated that more than 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year, making alcohol the third leading cause of death in the United States behind tobacco use and diet and exercise habits. Nearly 30% of all driving fatalities are also attributed to alcohol-impaired driving and nearly 30 people die in the US each year in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired motorist.

Effects on the Mind:

Heavy drinking over a prolonged period of time has shown to shrink brain volume and physical brain mass. Individuals who had more than 14 drinks per week over a 20-year timeframe had 1.6% smaller brains than those of nondrinkers. In men, individuals who had more than 2.5 drinks per day experienced a cognitive decline up to 6 years earlier than nondrinkers. The risk of developing a depressive disorder and bipolar disorder is 4% and 6% higher respectively among those with alcohol dependence as compared to those without it. The chance of developing a mood disorder and an anxiety disorder are 3.6 and 2.6 times higher, respectively, if someone is dependent on alcohol as compared to one who is not dependent on alcohol.  

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs):

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) refer to a range of effects that can afflict an individual whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. It is estimated that the full range of FASDs among 6-7-year-old children in the United States to be between 20 to 50 cases per 1,000.

College Students and Consumption of Alcohol:

About 25% of students report negative academic consequences from drinking and roughly 20% of college students meet the criteria for AUD. Nearly 700,000 students between the ages of 18-24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking and nearly 100,000 students in that age bracket report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or rape.

Learn more about alcoholism and its effects with help from Scripps Research Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research.

The Scripps Research Center is a research foundation that uses the latest biomedical research with clinical treatments to fight the deadly disease of alcohol and drug addiction. Our main clinical studies focus on alcoholism and binge drinking.  If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism and interested in participating in our clinical research, please feel free to contact us and begin a clinical lab study by giving us a call at (858) 784-7867.

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