Alcoholism Statistics

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  August 09 ,
| 4 Sources

Alcoholism statistics reveal the disease’s omnipresence across the U.S and underscore the continuing need for aggressive education and treatment to help problem drinkers and the many lives they impact.

Based on figures from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), it's estimated that more than 17 million Americans are alcoholics. This includes an overarching 12% of U.S adults who meet the clinical definition of alcohol abuse or dependency, as well as a significant percentage at various points along the spectrum between light use and dependence/abuse.

Worldwide, the ramifications of alcohol abuse and dependence are even more staggering. The following alcohol abuse statistics were compiled by the National Institute on Alcohol Recovery, based in Gaithersburg.

Breadth of the Disease

  • Alcoholism statistics tell us that about 43% of US adults or 76 million people have been exposed to alcohol dependence in the family. They grew up with or married a compulsive drinker or had a blood relative who was a problem drinker.
  • Alcohol abuse statistics also tell us that a total of 23 million Americans suffer from substance abuse addiction, and 18 million is alcohol related. Almost three times as many men as women are problem drinkers.
  • Compulsive drinkers are about two times more likely to be divorced than those not dependent on alcohol.

Cost of Alcohol Abuse and Dependence

  • Alcohol abuse statistics tell us that untreated addiction costs the U.S. $400 billion per year.
  • Untreated addiction is more expensive than three of the nation's top 10 killers. It is six times more expensive than heart disease, which costs $133.2 billion a year, and diabetes, which costs $130 billion a year. It is four times more expensive than cancer which is $96.1 billion a year.
  • Every American adult pays nearly $1,000 per year for the damages of addiction.
  • Shortfalls in productivity and employment among individuals with alcohol or other drug-related problems cost the American economy $80.9 billion, of which $66.7 billion is attributed to alcohol and $14.2 billion to other drugs.

Alcoholism Statistics for Children and Youth

  • More than nine million children live with a parent dependent on alcohol.
  • 62% of high school seniors report that they have been drunk; 31% say that have had five or more drinks in a row during the last two weeks.
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading known cause of mental retardation – and the most preventable of all birth defects.
  • Alcohol abuse statistics tell us that alcohol use by minors is estimated to cost $58 billion per year. This includes traffic crashes, violent crime, burns, drowning, alcohol poisonings, suicide attempts, and treatment.
  • A survey of female college students found a significant relationship between the amount of alcohol the women reported drinking each week and their experiences of sexual victimization.

Alcohol Abuse Statistics on Treatment

  • Alcoholism statistics tell us that between 700,000 to two million Americans receive alcohol dependency treatment on any given day.
  • Women comprise 34% of the Alcoholics Anonymous membership.
  • Surveys indicate that up to 11 percent of elderly patients admitted to hospitals exhibit symptoms of alcohol dependence, as do 20 percent of elderly patients in psychiatric wards.
  • Between 20 and 30 per cent of male psychiatric admissions are alcohol dependent or have alcohol-related problems.

Alcoholism and Work

  • Productivity losses due to alcohol were estimated to be $119 billion.
  • Up to 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence.
  • Post accident testing of railroad employees showed alcoholism statistics at 4.2 for those who tested positive for alcohol or other prohibited drugs.
  • Alcohol-related job performance problems are caused not only by on-the-job drinking but also by heavy drinking outside of work. There is a direct relationship between the frequency of being “hungover” at work and the frequency of feeling sick at work, sleeping on the job, and having problems with job tasks or co-workers.

Alcoholism Statistics on Fatalities and Violence

  • Alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable mortality in the US.
  • 40 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related.
  • Between 48% and 64% of people who die in fires have blood alcohol levels indicating intoxication.
  • Alcohol has been involved in violence caused by 86 percent of homicide offenders, 37 percent of assault offenders, 60 percent of sexual offenders, 57 percent of men and 27 percent of women involved in marital violence, and 13 percent of child abusers.
  • Based on victim reports, each year 183,000 (37%) rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender, as do just over 197,000 (15%) robberies, about 661,000 (27%) aggravated assaults, and nearly 1.7 million (25%) simple assaults.
  • Studies of suicide victims in the general population show that about 20% of such suicide victims are alcohol dependent.
  • One-quarter of all emergency room admissions, one-third of all suicides, and more than half of all homicides and incidents of domestic violence are alcohol-related.

The alcoholism statistics demonstrate that alcohol is a significant factor in many of society's problems. Alcoholism statistics show that it affects large segments of the population, including youth and older people.

The potential economic losses resulting from job-related injuries, violent behavior, work productivity, sexual assault and domestic violence are enormous.

These numbers indicate that the most effective way to address drinking problems is through prevention efforts such as: 

  • Education programs for children and adolescents about alcohol's effects on health, 
  • Minimizing the availability of alcohol by restricting when and where it can be sold or consumed (e.g., raising taxes), 
  • Denying driving privileges for those who have drunk-driving convictions, 
  • Increasing enforcement of laws against selling to minors.
  • Mandating warnings on containers about drinking while pregnant. 
  • Implementing other laws or policies that reduce consumption. 

Although treatment for individuals with alcohol-use disorders is often short term, continuing care is essential for long-term recovery and relapse prevention.

In the workplace, alcohol-use preventive measures include enforcing rules about use by employees; monitoring usage during work hours; and educating employees with alcohol-related problems about how to overcome these problems. Alcoholism statistics indicate that when employers provide treatment for drinking problems, productivity improves.

As we have seen throughout this sobering piece of research, it is important to realize that alcoholism does not discriminate. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, please take action today! Contact a professional intervention specialist in your area to discuss the next steps toward recovery so you can get your life back on track. You owe it to yourself and those around you who depend upon you. It's time to make a change for the better!

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

More than alcoholism statistics on our alcoholism facts page

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