Alcoholism Facts

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited: August 25,
| 4 Sources

Alcoholism Facts Reveal Pervasive Health Concern

Alcohol consumption has a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of those who drink and the lives of family and friends they touch.

While most people are safe and responsible drinkers, statistics show that the minority who consume excess quantities on a regular basis have an impact that “ripples outward to encompass their families, friends, and communities,” according to information published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

There are abundant, compelling alcoholism facts that point to the health risks and impact of the disease. Here are some highlights.


Alcoholism Facts

  • More than 100,000 U.S. deaths are caused by excessive alcohol consumption each year. Direct and indirect causes of death include drunk driving, cirrhosis of the liver, falls, cancer, and stroke.
  • 48 percent of persons aged 12 and over in the U.S. are drinkers This translates to an estimated 109 million people.
  • Nearly 18 million Americans (8.5 percent of adults_ meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. For diagnostic criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMV-IV), click here.
  • Alcohol abuse and dependence is more common among males than females and decrease with aging.
  • The progression of alcoholism appears to be faster in women than in men.
  • More than one-half of American adults have a close family member who has or has had alcoholism.
  • Approximately one in four children in the U.S. under 18 years old is exposed to alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence in the family.
  • Alcohol is the top drug of choice for children and adolescents.
  • Each day, 7000 children in the U.S. under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Children of alcoholics are significantly more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence and to develop alcohol use disorders.
  • Approximately 20 percent of persons aged 12 or older participated in binge drinking at least once in the 30 days prior. Binge" drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion.
  • The highest prevalence of binge and heavy drinking was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate occurring at age 21.
  • More than 35 percent of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms such as binge drinking by age 19.
  • Alcohol–related crashes (i.e., those in which a driver or pedestrian had a blood alcohol concentration greater than zero) account for 41 percent of all fatal car accidents.
  • Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes.
  • The economic costs of alcohol abuse in the U.S. are estimated to be approximately $185 billion annually.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

Information Sources for Alcoholism Facts:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health; 2002 Prevention Alert: The Binge Drinking Epidemic; 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Youth Drinking: Risk Factors and Consequences. Alcohol Alert No. 37; Journal: Alcohol Research & Health: Highlights From the Tenth Special Report to Congress, Health Risks and Benefits of Alcohol Consumption (Volume 24, Number 1, 2000 ed.)

Carroll, C.R. Drugs in Modern Society. Boston, Massachusetts: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts 2002. 

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Alcoholism Cause and Effects - Important information on how alcohol affects the body. Suprisingly, women are more susceptible than men to many of these medical issues. Follow the link to learn more.

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Follow these links for more facts about alcoholism and additional alchoholism information. 

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