Understanding Alcoholism: Usage, Treatment and Mortality Overview
Alcoholism is a disease characterized by an addiction to the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Also known as alcohol dependence syndrome, alcoholism is a chronic, ongoing condition. More than 70 percent of individuals who develop alcohol dependency suffer from an episode lasting on average three to four years.
Over half of all adults (51.5%) over the age of 18 report being regular drinkers, consuming 12 or more drinks in the last year. 13.6% of adults over the age of 18 are infrequent drinkers, consuming 1 to 11 drinks in the last year.
Mortality from Liver Disease & Alcohol-induced Deaths
In 2012, there were 15,990 deaths from alcoholic-related liver disease. There were 25,692 alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents or homicides.
Many Need Treatment, But Not All Get Help
In 2007, 19.3 million Americans needed treatment for alcohol dependency. However, not everyone who needs treatment receives it:
- Only 8.1% of individuals who needed treatment received care at a substance abuse treatment center.
- 87.4% of individuals who needed treatment for alcohol dependency did not receive help because they did not believe that they needed it.
- 4.5% of individuals who needed treatment said that they recognized the need but were unable to seek care. Of these individuals, only 27.9% made an attempt to get help.
Nearly half of all individuals who choose not seek treatment (42.5%) say they do not get help because they are “not ready to start to stop drinking.” 34.5% cite barriers to access, such as the cost of treatment or lack of insurance coverage, as the reason for not seeking treatment. 18.8% cite social stigma as the reason for not getting help; 11.1% say that they did not know where to go for treatment. 3.1% believe that “treatment would not help.”
The need for alcohol treatment is highest among 18 to 25 year olds (17.2%). More men than women need treatment (10.9% versus 4.8%, respectively).
Binge Drinking Statistics
Binge drinking is a dangerous pattern of alcohol over-consumption. It is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in a short period, typically two to three hours. While not all binge drinkers are alcoholics, binge drinking typically leads to acute alcohol intoxication. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
Who Binge Drinks?
Binge drinking is a growing problem among young adults and underage drinkers:
- 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults aged 26 or older. Underage drinkers are most likely to binge drink
- 90 percent of all alcohol consumed by youths under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinking
75 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States is in the form of binge drinking. In the United States, 92 percent of adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the last 30 days.
How Binge Drinking Affects the Body
Binge drinking increases the risk for health problems, including alcohol poisoning. Individuals who binge drink are more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases, have unwanted pregnancies, and have children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Binge drinking also clouds an individual’s judgment, leading to poor decisions and risky behavior such as drinking and driving, domestic violence and sexual assault.
Binge Drinking Poses Serious Threat to Men’s Health
Excessive alcohol consumption affects men’s health, including male hormone production. This can lead to testicular dysfunction, impotence, infertility and reduced secondary sex characteristics, including facial and chest hair. Excessive alcohol consumption increase the risk for mouth cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer.
- Nearly two out of every three men (63%) report consuming alcohol in the last 30 days. Men are twice as likely as women to binge drink.
- Men average 12.5 binge drinking episodes every year; women average only 2.7.
- An estimated 17% of men will meet the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives.
Binge Drinking: A Growing Problem for Young Women
More than 14 million women binge drink in the United States. Women binge drink on average three times per month and consume on average six drinks or more per binge drinking session. Binge drinking accounts for 23,000 female deaths each year. Binge drinking also affects women’s health, increasing the risk for heart disease, breast cancer, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and other health problems each year.
Despite the risks associated with binge drinking, 1 in 8 women and 1 in 5 high school girls binge drink. Binge drinking is most common amongst high school girls and young women with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Half of all high school girls who drink alcohol are binge drinkers.
Underage Drinking Statistics
Underage drinking is defined as alcohol use by an individual under the age of 21 years. Underage drinking is a major public health problem:
- Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among youth in the United States, surpassing tobacco and illegal drug use
- 33% of 8th graders and 70% of 12th graders have tried alcohol
- 13% of 8th graders and 40% of 12th graders drank during the past month
In the last 30 days, the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of high school students found:
- 39% drank some alcohol
- 24% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol
- 22% binge drank
- 8% drove after drinking
Youth Who Drink at Increased Risk for Alcohol Dependency
Youth who start drinking before age 15 are five times more like to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking on or after 21 years. Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:
- Academic problems, including increase absenteeism and poor or failing grades
- Social problems, including fights with other students and low participation in youth activities
- Legal problems, including being arrested for driving under the influence or physically assaulting someone while drinking
- Physical health problems from drinking, including hangovers and alcohol poisoning
- Sexual health problems, including wanted pregnancies and unprotected sexual activity
- Youth who drink are also at increased risk for:
- Alcohol-related car crashes and other injuries
- Memory impairment
- Drug abuse
Alcohol Abuse and Drunk Driving Statistics
Individuals with alcohol dependency are at increased risk for drunk driving and alcohol-related traffic fatalities:
- Every day, nearly 30 Americans are killed in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
- Alcohol-impaired drivers cause one death every 48 minutes
- The annual cost for alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents is more than $51 billion.
Alcohol and Traffic Fatalities
In 2010, 10,228 Americans died in alcohol-related traffic accidents. More than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence. This is less than 1% of the 112 million Americans who self-report driving under the influence at some point in the last year. 17% of all traffic fatalities for children between the ages of 0 and 14 involve an alcohol-impaired driver. More than half of these children were riding in vehicles were the driver was under the influence of alcohol.
Youth aged 21 to 24 are most likely to be driving in an alcohol-related traffic accident. More than one out of every three drivers with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher are aged 21 to 24.