In the United States, the majority of people drink alcoholic beverages at some point or another through the course of a year. Alcohol abuse and dependence is the number one drug problem in this country. Just how much of the population drinks alcohol? How many people abuse or are dependent on alcohol? What are the alcoholism statistics compared to alcoholism recovery statistics? When referring to statistics for information, it is important to remember that much of the information is obtained from self reports by individuals who may or may not want to appear to have a drinking problem, so actual numbers may differ.
Alcohol Use in the United States
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism1, men are more likely to drink alcoholic beverages than women. In the past year, the percentages of those who consumed alcohol based on gender are as follows:
- 71.8 percent of men
- 59.6 percent of women
Less than one fourth of the population in the United States have never drank alcoholic beverages, often referred to as lifetime abstainers:
- 11.6 percent of men
- 22.5 percent of women
These percentages are not expected to improve, but rather decrease as more people see alcohol as socially acceptable. Currently, more than half of the adults in this country drink alcohol on a regular basis.
Those who abuse alcohol know they drink more or drink more frequently than they should, and they continue to drink even though it often causes problems for them. Up to 14 million adult drinkers in the United States are estimated to abuse alcohol each year. That amounts to approximately 1 in every 13 adults in this country that abuses alcohol.
Binge drinking is defined as drinking a certain number of drinks during a set time period. For women, it is drinking 4 drinks in a 2 hour period, and for men this is 5 drinks in the same time period. When it comes to binge drinking, men are still more likely than women to engage in this practice:
- 43.1 percent of men
- 28.8 percent of women
Risks of binge drinking include an increased risk of injuries, accidents, and violence, and alcohol poisoning, which can lead to death.
Those who are dependent on alcohol cannot control their drinking, and experience a strong, uncontrollable craving for alcohol. They have tried to quit, but can’t. Alcoholics experience an increased tolerance to alcohol which leads to increased drinking, and they experience withdrawal symptoms that can become fatal if not dealt with in a medical setting. Up to 30 percent of regular drinkers may be able to be classified as alcoholic, or dependent on alcohol.
Underage Drinking and Alcoholism Statistics
Underage drinking is a real problem in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 39 percent of all high school students have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage in the past month. Alcohol use among teens is even greater than that of tobacco or illegal drugs. According to statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2, teen drinking is a real problem that includes:
- 39 percent of teens drinking alcohol within the past 30 days
- 22 percent of teens binge drinking in that same time period
More than 90 percent of all alcohol consumed by those in their teens is in the form of binge drinking.
Alcoholism and Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States that is related to lifestyle choices3. Other health statistics related to alcohol use include:
- 80,000 people die due to excess alcohol use each year
- One third of all suicides are alcohol related
- Alcohol can be attributed to half of of all domestic violence reports
- Approximately 4 million emergency room and doctors visits are due to excessive drinking
Treatment and Alcoholism
Treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence greatly increases the rate of recovery. But it appears that only about 16 percent of those who need treatment ever actually receive it. Also, for those who have received treatment, alcoholism recovery rates are improved for those who participate in both aftercare programs and group sessions, with the recovery rate soaring to a whopping 90 percent for those individuals, according to information provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse4.
Alcoholism Recovery Statistics
Alcoholism recovery rates at the one year marker are estimated at 35.9 percent of those who had previously been dependent on alcohol, according to statistical information obtained in a study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism5. However, it is important to note that alcoholism recovery statistics are often based on self reports so the actually numbers may vary.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Fact Sheets – Underage Drinking
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Fact Sheets- Alcohol Use and Health
- NIDA; results published on Current Statistics; Caron Pennsylvania Organization
- NIAAA News Release; Survey Finds That Many Recover From Alcoholism; About.com