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Facts and Statistics About Alcohol

Written By
Chris Elkins, M.A.
This page features
10 Cited Research Articles

Most people know that alcohol is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. But did you know that more people are addicted to alcohol than to all illicit drugs combined? And have you heard that 2,632 college students try alcohol for the first time each day? Read on to learn more surprising facts and statistics about alcohol.

How Many People Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol consumption is more common than use of tobacco or any illicit drug, including marijuana. About a quarter of Americans try alcohol before age 18, and more than three-quarters of adults try alcohol by age 25.

The following stats are from data gathered during the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that was published by the federal government in September 2017. Current alcohol use is measured by alcohol use during the past month.

For women, binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks on one occasion. Binge drinking for men involves having five or more drinks on one occasion. Heavy drinking occurs when someone binge drinks on five or more days in the past 30 days.

How Many People Experience Alcoholism?

Alcohol addiction is the most common type of substance use disorder in the United States. Substance use disorder is the medical term for addiction, and alcohol use disorder is the medical term for alcoholism. The latter condition affects about 5 percent of Americans each year.

Unless otherwise specified, the following stats are from the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

It’s difficult to estimate how many people are in recovery from alcoholism. A 2012 study by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids estimated that 23 million Americans, or about 10 percent of all American adults, were in recovery from alcohol or other drug problems.

Deaths Caused by Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Alcohol-related deaths include short-term causes of death, such as drunk driving and alcohol-involved violence. But alcohol also causes long-term health problems that kill thousands of people each year.

Alcohol is one of the most widely available and easily accessible addictive substances. When consumed responsibly, the risks are benign. However, people are often unable or unwilling to drink responsibly, and many of them experience serious consequences.

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