Whether it’s a glass of wine with lunch, a beer after work, or a cocktail every now and then, every drop of alcohol has an impact on your body. And when the occasional drink turns into alcoholism, that impact is even more dangerous. Alcohol is the most abused drug in the US, and it’s the leading health crisis today.
The following alcoholism statistics show that the number of people who abuse alcohol is far greater than the number of people who abuse illegal drugs. Of course, there are some benefits to drinking alcohol, but the damage it does to your body is much greater. Besides the physical damage, alcohol can lead to psychological damage, as well, and long-term use of this substance can lead to some very serious complications.
That’s why it’s vital to raise awareness of the effects alcohol has, thus hopefully decreasing its use and possibly even putting an end to alcoholism. So let’s see what there is to learn.
The Top 10 Alcohol Facts and Statistics to Know in 2020
- The legal drinking age for Americans is 21.
- Around one quarter of Americans try alcohol before they turn 18.
- Sumerians in Mesopotamia made beer between 2000–3000 BCE.
- The most common substance use disorder is alcohol addiction.
- By 1970, the average American consumed 5.8 gallons of alcohol per year.
- According to the alcohol statistics from 2015, 3 in 4 deaths from alcohol poisoning included adults aged 35–64.
- In 2013, 35,620 people were treated for alcohol poisoning in England alone.
- The number of deaths caused by liver disease has increased by 25% due primarily to alcohol consumption.
- 1% of babies are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
- Drug abuse costs the United States $600 billion per year.
General Alcohol Awareness Facts & Stats
1. The legal drinking age for Americans is 21.
But this is not quite true. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 prohibits individuals younger than 21 to buy or possess alcoholic drinks publicly. But it doesn’t forbid them from drinking. Nevertheless, further show that 74% of people oppose the idea of lowering the drinking age.
2. Around one quarter of Americans try alcohol before they turn 18.
An even greater number of US adults—over three quarters to be more precise—try alcohol before they turn 25. The consumption of alcohol is even greater than the consumption of other illicit drugs. 85% of adults have had alcohol in their lives.
3. The alcohol consumption statistics show that “binge drinking” takes fewer drinks than you’d expect.
It depends on your gender, but “binge drinking” for women implies consuming four or more drinks on a single occasion, and five or more drinks for men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also defines “heavy drinking” as eight or more drinks on a weekly basis for women, and fifteen or more drinks per week for men.
4. In 2005, 3.9 million Americans received treatment for substance abuse.
Additional statistics on alcohol also report that out of this enormous number, 2.5 million US adults were treated for alcohol abuse. And 16 million people over the age of 12 admitted to drinking heavily or binge drinking for at least five of the last 30 days within being surveyed.
5. 32% of heavy drinkers also use illegal drugs.
Young people who drink are 7.5 times more likely to start using illegal drugs. They are also 50 times more likely to start using cocaine than people who never drink.
Alcohol History Facts & Stats
6. Mankind has been making alcohol for at least 12,000 years.
(Sawyer Hartman Film)
Some facts about alcohol claim that people have been drinking long before there was civilization. It’s believed that farming was actually invented to produce ingredients for making alcohol. Our ancestors weren’t that much different—they cherished alcohol more than they cherished food. They saw it as a nourishing and relaxing substance.
7. Sumerians in Mesopotamia made beer between 2000–3000 BCE.
Research shows that they had regulations on drinking alcohol, as well as specific rules. They also used beer in religious ceremonies, as a sacrifice to the gods. Beer was so important to them that they even mention it in the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which a primitive man transforms into a gentleman after drinking beer. Researchers have also found that Sumerians had over 20 beer varieties.
8. The first thing Noah purportedly did after the Great Flood was plant a vineyard.
Alcohol was believed to have enormous religious power and importance. According to some of the latest alcohol myths and facts, it was believed that alcohol had supernatural powers. The Egyptians believed that the god Osiris gave them the gift of making beer. The Greeks consumed wine as a form of worship, and grain-based beer and wine were made in China. They were used for religious ceremonies and for royal burials.
9. The Mayflower landed on Cape Cod because they ran out of beer.
On their voyage to Virginia, the pilgrims ran out of beer. The captain was supposed to drop off the pilgrims in Virginia, restock his supplies, and go back to England. But the captain didn’t have enough beer for his crew, so the shortage of this precious liquid changed their destination.
10. By 1970, the average American consumed 5.8 gallons of alcohol per year.
Colonial Americans drank every day, all day, mostly cider, beer, and rum. New England quickly became the most popular location for breweries. According to historical statistics about alcohol, there were over 140 breweries, and alcohol consumption totals soon rose to 7.1 gallons per person, per year.
Alcohol Abuse Stats & Facts
11. The most common substance use disorder is alcohol addiction.
Addiction is always a serious problem, no matter if a person is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or something less serious. According to official alcohol addiction statistics, the most common type of addiction in the United States is alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is the colloquial term for alcohol use disorder, while addiction is the colloquial term for substance use disorder.
12. More than 5.3 million women over the age of 18 suffer from alcohol use disorder.
According to the NIH, and their alcoholism statistics, 18% of women from this age group binge drink. Between 2002 and 2013, alcohol abuse disorder in women has increased by 83.7%. High-risk drinking, which is more than three drinks per day, or more than seven a week, has also increased by 58%.
13. When surveyed, almost 60% of men admitted to drinking within the last month.
23% of this number admit to binge drinking more than five times a month, and 8.4% of men fulfill the criteria for alcohol dependence, according to our latest alcohol abuse statistics. Men are also twice as likely to binge drink compared to women—as well as drive under the influence.
14. About 23 million Americans have been in recovery for alcohol abuse.
(Drug Rehab) (The Recovery Village)
Individuals who are in recovery from alcoholism tend to have high relapse rates. Less than 20% of alcoholics remain alcohol-free for a year, and 60% of those who are sober for over two years also relapse.
The lowest rate for relapse is in people who’ve been alcohol-free for more than five years, according to the alcohol relapse statistics. The risk of relapse is always present, but the general theory is that the longer a person is sober, the less they are likely to relapse.
15. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has about 2 million members in the world.
AA meetings can be a huge help when it comes to fighting alcohol addiction. They offer support to people who want to go to rehab, those who’ve recovered, and those who need help fighting alcohol withdrawal, relapse, and so on. They don’t disclose their failure rates, but the stats on alcohol show that 33% of AA members have been sober for over 10 years.
16. In 2010, alcohol addiction cost the US $249 billion.
Even though a functioning alcoholic can work, their productivity lessens. This and an unhealthy lifestyle are only two of the many ways that alcoholism impacts a person. The economic burden also plays a major role. Alcohol abuse drains the economy, and almost three-quarters of that cost is related to binge drinking.
17. More than 10% of children in America have at least one parent with alcoholism.
The latest alcohol facts show that children who grow up in these kinds of families have a high chance of suffering from physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. Physical and emotional neglect can also occur in these cases, which can leave these children emotionally, as well as physically, scarred and traumatized for the remainder of their lives.
Alcohol Consumption Consequences
18. Over 50% of adults have blacked out at least once.
Passing out and blacking out may seem similar, but they are actually different. When it comes to an alcohol blackout, the facts show that it’s mainly caused by binge drinking, and it affects women more than men. During a blackout, a person may function normally and process information, but their brain loses the ability to create long-term memories.
19. 1 in 50 college students also used illicit drugs before blacking out.
Drunk people are more likely to try drugs, and various studies show that using valium and Rohypnol with alcohol increased the chances of blacking out. Our alcohol abuse facts report that abusing drugs without alcohol also causes memory loss, but abusing alcohol alongside drugs increases their effect.
20. 15.1 million adults suffer from alcohol abuse.
(NIH) (Talbott Recovery)
It’s very important to spot the signs of alcohol abuse to be able to help someone. Symptoms of alcohol abuse may include trouble at work or school, the inability to perform tasks, engaging in dangerous activities like driving drunk, and blacking out. This can all lead to a lack of interest in the things you used to enjoy, drinking by yourself, various legal and health problems, or depression.
21. According to the alcohol statistics from 2015, 3 in 4 deaths from alcohol poisoning included adults aged 35–64.
The majority of these deaths occur among men, as well as non-Hispanic whites. 30% of those who died from alcohol poisoning were alcoholics. And the combined group with the highest number of deaths caused by alcohol poisoning per million people is American Indians and Alaska Natives.
22. Alcoholism is the third highest cause of death in the US.
This includes deaths caused by alcohol consumption. However, alcoholism also has a severe impact on the whole body. The brain, heart, pancreas, mouth, immune system, and liver can be damaged from prolonged alcohol use. Long-term heavy drinking is dangerous for both the body and our mental health.
23. When it comes to alcohol use and death, statistics report that 100,000 people die each year in alcohol-related accidents.
Crashes from drinking and driving, falls, fires, suicides and homicides, and more all contribute to this number. In addition to this, drunk driving alone costs the United States a shocking $199 billion per year.
24. 3.3 million deaths on a global level were caused by alcohol use.
According to our facts about alcohol abuse, that makes up 5.9% of all deaths in the world: 7.6% among men and 4.1% among women. In 2010, alcoholism was the fifth biggest cause of premature death. In the 15–49 age group, it was the first cause, and shortened to the 20–39 age group, it’s attributed to 25% of all deaths.
25. In 2013, 35,620 people were treated for alcohol poisoning in England alone.
Despite common thought, alcohol is a poison, and it can lead to deadly consequences. Our bodies can process only one unit of alcohol per hour. If we drink more than that, our bodies can’t function properly, which can lead to alcohol poisoning. More alcohol poisoning facts reported 360 accidental deaths in England in 2011.
26. In just one year, 45,290 people under the age of 24 were hospitalized in England due to alcohol consumption.
It’s essential to know what the symptoms of alcohol poisoning are so you can help someone. Some of the less dangerous symptoms may include confusion and loss of coordination. But there may also be seizures, vomiting, breathing problems, pale or bluish skin, hypothermia, blacking out, passing out, and more.
27. Alcohol consumption can cause hypertension, according to the alcohol stats.
The excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension. Usually, you won’t notice or feel hypertension, but regular drinking, lack of exercise, obesity and too much salt, and family history contribute greatly to high blood pressure. The most serious risks of high blood pressure are heart attack and stroke.
28. The number of deaths caused by liver disease has increased by 25% due primarily to alcohol consumption.
The liver is the biggest organ in our bodies, and it has more than 500 functions. Despite this, we can’t know when our liver is damaged until it can have a serious impact on our health. According to alcohol poisoning statistics, drinking alcohol can cause major damage to the liver, which can’t be repaired. Alcohol consumption contributes to 37% of the deaths caused by liver disease.
There are two types of liver disease: acute, when the damage to the liver develops over a few months, and chronic, where the damage to the liver develops over a few years. It’s not clear why alcohol damages the liver to such an extent, but it’s possible that the main reasons are oxidative stress and bacteria in the gut.
29. There are 11,900 cases of cancer each year in the UK caused by alcohol consumption.
(Cancer Research UK)
The alcohol and cancer statistics report that even small amounts of alcohol can cause various types of cancer. If you consume alcohol, you’re in danger of developing mouth cancer, upper throat cancer, food pipe cancer, voice box cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, and liver cancer.
And it’s even worse if you smoke since alcohol helps the mouth and throat take in the dangerous substances from tobacco even more easily. It doesn’t even matter if you have a tried-and-true hangover cure—the damage alcohol causes to the body is long-term.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Facts
30. 1% of babies are born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Autism has almost the same rate as FASD. It occurs more often than Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, SIDS, cystic fibrosis, and spina bifida combined. FASD is a term that covers a great number of disorders, like fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), partial fetal alcohol syndrome, birth defects related to alcohol, neurodevelopmental disorders related to alcohol, and others. Individuals who suffer from FAS may have problems with hearing, vision, learning, communication, memory, etc.
31. The fetal alcohol syndrome statistics report that nearly 40,000 babies are born with FASD each year.
FASD usually occurs before birth due to women drinking during their pregnancies. The damage in these babies can go from mild to very serious. These disorders can have an impact on the baby, both physically and psychologically. The damage can take place early on, in just the first few weeks of the pregnancy.
32. Alcohol causes more harm during pregnancy than drugs, according to foetal alcohol syndrome statistics.
Out of all substances, including cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, alcohol inflicts the most serious damage to the fetus. It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol you consume or how much alcohol you consume. Any amount of any kind of alcohol can damage the baby. Fetuses and babies don’t have the ability to process alcohol, so they have the same alcohol level in their blood as their mother. Do not consume alcohol if you are pregnant.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Statistics
33. Drug abuse costs the United States $600 billion per year.
(City Vision University)
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the expense of health care and treatments, as well as crime and the loss of productivity, create a major cost for the US every year. The most common drug for new users is marijuana, followed by prescription pain relievers and inhalants, which are mostly used by young teenagers.
34. In 2012, 23.9 million Americans over the age of 12 have used drugs.
(City Vision University)
The drug and alcohol abuse facts state that 9.2% of the population has used drugs, pain killers, tranquilizers, or different stimulants in the previous month. This is an increase from 2002’s 8.3%. Using drugs is most common among people in their late teens and early twenties. 23.9% people in the 18–20 age group admitted that they’d used drugs within a month before being surveyed.
35. Over 15 million Americans over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol.
(City Vision University)
According to the information prepared for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, 23 million Americans suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. 15 million of them are addicted to alcohol, about 4 million are addicted to drugs, and the rest are addicted to both. 2.8 million new drug users were recorded in 2012. There are about 7,879 new drug users every day, and half of them are under the age of 18. Most people start abusing drugs while they’re in their teenage years.
36. Those suffering from alcohol abuse are 10 times more likely to commit suicide.
(City Vision University)
Drugs and alcohol facts show that individuals who use drugs are 14 times more likely to commit suicide. Overuse of alcohol makes up for 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) every year. That is 30 years, on average, of potential life lost for each death. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers, just like homicide, suicide, and various accidents.
37. 10–15 million people in the United States can be classified as alcoholics.
(City Vision University)
According to the latest drug and alcohol statistics from the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), about 4.5 million of them are adolescents. People who start drinking before the age of 15 have a higher chance of becoming dependent on alcohol than people who start drinking at the age of 21 or older. At some point in their lives, alcoholism will affect 17% of men and 8% of women.
38. 58% of college students aged 18–22 drank alcohol within a month of being surveyed.
College alcohol statistics state that 1,825 college students aged 18–24 die from injuries related to alcohol consumption each year, motor vehicle crashes included. 696,000 college students are assaulted by another college student under the influence. 97,000 students have been sexually assaulted by another college student who had been drinking alcohol.
Around 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. And 1 in 4 students admits that alcohol has influenced their academic performance.
39. 81% of college students have had alcohol at some point.
(Drug Rehab) (City Vision University)
The college alcohol facts report that the biggest problem on campuses is the consumption of alcohol. When asked, 79% of college students said they had consumed alcohol in the previous year, and 63% of college students drank alcohol within the previous 30 days.
Out of that number, 40.1% of students binge drank in the previous month. Some colleges try to combat this problem by banning alcohol on campus, and others try to educate their students on the differences between casual drinking and binge drinking.
40. Teenage alcohol abuse statistics show that in 2015, 7.7 million teenagers aged 12–20 drank alcohol.
11% of the alcohol consumed in the United States is consumed by young people aged 12–20. Even though they drink less often than adults, they drink more, because 90% of them binge drink. 33% of teenagers drank alcohol before turning 15. 60% of them drank alcohol before turning 18. As teenagers get older, they tend to drink more.
More Fun Facts About Alcohol
41. The world’s strongest beer is 67.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).
Brewmeister is a Scottish brewery that makes Snake Venom, that is, the strongest beer in the world. Usually, beer has under 10% ABV, so 67.5% is more than an impressive number. Previously, they made Armageddon, a beer with an ABV of 65%.
42. The strongest whiskey in the world has an alcoholic volume of 92%.
It’s the Scottish Bruichladdich, a single malt whiskey that’s so strong, it can fuel a sports car going over 100 mph. It’s aged in new oak casks to enhance the flavor. It will surely give you one hell of a hangover.
43. The strongest drink in the world has 96% ABV.
It’s a Polish vodka called Spirytus Rektyfikowany, and according to our interesting facts about alcohol, it’s made from pure grain. It’s mostly used for medical and industrial purposes, but small shots of it are also consumed at funerals to toast the dead. Right behind Poland is the US with its Everclear, which has an ABV of 95% and was in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1979 for the Most Alcoholic Drink in the World.
44. In 2011, Russians drank 18 liters of alcohol per person, every year.
It’s certainly a cliche that Russians start their day with a glass of vodka, but most alcohol facts state that they used to drink 18 liters of alcohol a year. Luckily, that number is slowly decreasing. In 2014 it fell to 13.5 liters of alcohol per year, per person.
45. Anheuser-Busch is the biggest brewery in the world.
This Belgian drink and brewing company has more than 500 brands, and it produces innumerable varieties of beer. They support local brewers and use classic as well as historic recipes. Some of the brands they have include Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, and Hoegaarden.
46. According to the alcohol nutrition facts, vodka has the lowest number of calories.
(Medical News Today)
Plain vodka only contains alcohol and water, so the calories come only from the alcohol. One shot of vodka (1.5 ounces) has around 96 calories. In comparison to various beers, wines, or ciders, that number is fairly low. But drinking alcohol isn’t recommended if you want to lose weight because it can trigger cravings for fatty foods, and it generally increases the appetite.
47. 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach.
The rest of the alcohol is absorbed through the small intestine. Alcoholism statistics show that this is the reason we get drunk quicker on an empty stomach. Also, alcoholic drinks that are mixed with carbonated drinks like soda tend to get into our systems much easier.
On the other hand, food, especially carbs, slow down this process. The alcohol concentration in your blood may not reach even a quarter of the concentration absorbed on an empty stomach. For the most pleasurable effect, you should drink alcohol with a meal. Or if you drink spirits, it’s better to dilute them.
What is alcoholism?
(Medical News Today)
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), or alcoholism, is a condition in which an individual feels the physical need, or the desire, to drink alcohol, regardless of the negative influence doing so will have on their life. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that in 2015, 6.2% of the world’s population suffered from AUD. According to the World Health Organization, 3.3 million deaths a year are caused by alcohol consumption. The NIH describes alcoholism as a drinking problem that becomes severe.
What is an alcoholic?
(Medical News Today)
A person who suffers from alcohol use disorder has been referred to as an alcoholic. Today, that term is seen as negative and unhelpful, so health professionals say that an individual has an alcohol use disorder (AUD). People who have an AUD are not aware of how much they drink. The only thing they think of is alcohol, and they don’t know how and when to stop drinking. They can’t control their alcohol consumption, even if they are aware that it’s causing problems at work, in school, or in relationships with family, friends, and partners.
How does alcohol affect the body?
(Medical News Today)
Alcohol affects the psychological and physical aspects of our bodies. At first, alcohol impacts your mood and might even improve it. However, after long-term use, a person becomes sedated when they drink, and their nervous system gets depressed. Alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions, altering their judgment, emotions, thoughts, and behavior in general. Heavy drinkers often have trouble speaking and coordinating their muscles, and binge drinking can even lead to a coma.
According to our latest alcohol addiction facts, regular drinking can also cause problems like fatigue and memory loss. Your eye muscles may become weaker, and alcohol can cause irreparable damage to the liver. Hypertension, heart problems, and gastrointestinal complications are also possible health problems. Alcohol consumption plays a big role in diabetes and erectile dysfunction, and it can also disrupt the menstrual cycle.
Additionally, alcohol can harm your baby if you’re pregnant, causing fetal alcohol syndrome. Thinning bones, cancer, and nervous system problems are also linked to AUD. And finally, suicide, homicide, and various mental illnesses are all possible after-effects of AUD.
How does alcohol affect the brain?
(American Addiction Centers)
Occasional drinkers may experience memory loss or black out. Usually, they won’t experience any lasting mental problems. However, they may engage in dangerous activities like drinking and driving or vandalism. Moderate drinkers have a higher chance of developing breast cancer. it can cause slight cognitive impairment, meaning one might suffer from a fall, drowning, or a car accident.
However, heavy drinkers cause long-term damage to their brain. Even if they become sober, the damage isn’t repaired. Intellectual functions are diminished, as well as the size of the brain. Visuospatial abilities and the ability for abstract thought are also part of the brain damage caused by alcohol.
How long does alcohol stay in your system?
(The Recovery Village)
Our livers can process about one drink per hour, provided it’s a healthy liver. One drink is usually defined as 12 fl oz for beer (5% alcohol), 5 fl oz of wine (12% alcohol), and 1 shot of spirits (around 40% alcohol, or 80 proof). Alcohol can stay in the urine for up to 80 hours, in the blood for 24 hours, and in the hair follicles for up to 3 months. Alcohol can also be detected in saliva, sweat, and breath.
The Bottom Line
Enjoying an occasional drink can lift your spirits and does little harm to your body or psyche. But it’s important to remember these alcoholism statistics as a form of prevention against alcohol use disorder. They may also let you help someone who’s becoming addicted to alcohol or already has problems with heavy drinking. Alcohol use disorder can be treated successfully in various clinics and AA organizations. The only important thing is to not judge someone who is suffering from AUD but instead show them support and give them help. And if you think you may be suffering from AUD, seek help from a clinic or a loved one.
List of Sources:
- USA Today
- Drug Rehab
- Drug-Free World
- Mental Floss
- Sawyer Hartman Film
- Talbott Recovery
- The Recovery Village
- Drug Rehab
- Talbott Recovery
- Cancer Research UK
- City Vision University
- Laughing Squid
- Understand Russia
- AB InBev
- Medical News Today
- Medical News Today
- American Addiction Centers
- The Recovery Village