Statistics on Alcohol Abuse

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : MARCH 23, 
| 3 Sources

The statistics on alcohol abuse are grim. Unfortunately, alcohol use and abuse is very common these days. It should be noted that alcohol use itself does not necessarily lead to abuse - while 75% of all adults drink alcohol, only 6% of these are alcoholics.

Alcohol is the top drug problem in the United States, and there are more than 12 million alcoholics in the U.S alone.

The statistics on alcohol abuse tell us that alcohol use and abuse is a problem among teenagers as well as adults. Seventy-five percent of all high school seniors report being drunk at lease once, and teens that use alcohol are far more likely to become alcoholics as adults than their peers who do not drink until at least age 21.

Young drinkers often binge drink (consume large quantities of alcohol within a short period of time), which carries extra health risks including the risk of alcohol poisoning.

Some Facts About Alcohol Use and Abuse

  • Americans spend about $197 million each day on alcohol.
  • The average person age 14 and older drinks 2.18 gallons of alcohol a year.
  • All told, alcoholism costs about $60 billion each year - counting cost for traffic accidents, health care, social services, etc.
  • Someone is killed in an alcohol-related car accident every half hour.
  • Each year, more than 100,000 deaths are caused by alcohol use and abuse in the U.S. alone.
  • Fifteen percent of all people who drink heavily for a decade or more develop cirrhosis of the liver - a disease that is only treatable by a liver transplant.

Some Statistics on Alcohol Abuse Among Teens

  • Each day an average of 11,318 teens try alcohol for the first time.
  • Two-fifths of all fifth graders have tried alcohol.
  • Americans drink the heaviest in their teens to mid-twenties. Alcohol use declines after that.
  • Teen drinkers account for nearly 12% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S.
  • Sixty percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol related.
  • Teens who drink alcohol are much more likely than their non-drinking peers to use drugs - for instance, they are 50 times more likely to use cocaine.

What Can We Do About These Statistics on Alcohol Abuse?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? What can we do about these statistics on alcohol abuse? Well, there are several things.

Better public education might help. Schools are now doing a better job of educating young people about alcohol abuse, but many adults simply don’t have the information. There are some public service messages on television, and some doctors make an effort to educate their patients, but more could probably be done.

If you’re interested in public education, look up “Alcoholism” in your local yellow pages and see what resources are available in your community. Call and ask how you can help.

To reduce alcohol use and abuse by teens, parents can simply talk to their children about alcohol. Studies show that teens whose parents discuss the issue with them are far less likely to drink than those whose parents don’t discuss the issue with them.

Educational programs in schools can help, too, especially programs that get students involved. Students Against Drunk Drivers (SADD) is a great program for teens. You can visit them online or call 1-877-SADD-INC to find out how students at your local high school can get involved.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has done a wonderful job of working to change laws relating to drunk driving and to educate the public about the issue. To find out how you can get involved, call 1-800-GET-MADD. 

More statistics on alcohol abuse on our main alcohol statistics page

Alcoholism home page

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