Alcohol Facts and Statistics

Alcohol Use in the United States

  • Drinking prevalence: According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they had consumed alcohol at some point in their lifetime, 69.5 percent had done so in the previous year, 2, and 54.9 percent had done so in the previous month, with 59.1 percent of men and 51.0 percent of women reporting having done so. 3
  • Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Alcohol Use: In 2019, 25.8% of adults (18 and older) reported binge drinking in the previous month (29.7% of men in this age group and 22.2 percent of women in this age group), and 6.3% (8.3% of men in this age group and 4.5 percent of women in this age group) reported heavy alcohol use in the previous month. 5 (For definitions of binge drinking and high alcohol usage, see the glossary.)
  • High-Intensity Drinking is an Emerging Trend. It is characterized by alcohol consumption at levels that are two or more times the gender-specific binge drinking limits (See glossary for additional details about the definition of high-intensity drinking). People who drank alcohol at levels twice the gender-specific thresholds for binge drinking were 70 times more likely to visit the emergency department (ED) due to alcohol use, and those who drank alcohol at levels three times the gender-specific binge thresholds were 93 times more likely. 6

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the United States

  • People 12 and Older: 14.5 million (almost 15 million) people aged 12 and older7 (5.3 percent of this age group8) have AUD, according to the 2019 NSDUH. 9.0 million men are included in this figure. 5.5 million women7 and 6.8% of men in this age group8 (3.9 percent of women in this age group8)
  • Youth 12 to 17 Years Old: According to the 2019 NSDUH, 414,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old (1.7 percent of this age group8) were projected to have AUD. This figure consists of 251,000 women and 163,000 men, or 1.3% of men in this age range (2.1 percent of females in this age group8).

Treatment of AUD in the United States

  • The 2019 NSDUH found that 7.2% of those aged 12 and older who had AUD in the previous year received any kind of treatment. This includes approximately 6.9% of men and 7.8% of women in this age bracket who had AUD in the previous year. 9 The 2019 NSDUH found that 6.4% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who had AUD in the previous year received any kind of treatment. This includes 6.4% of men and 6.4% of women in this age bracket who had AUD in the previous year. 9
  • The 2019 NSDUH found that 7.3% of persons aged 18 and older who had AUD in the previous year received any kind of treatment. This includes approximately 6.9% of men and 7.9% of women in this age bracket who had AUD in the previous year. 9
  • Less than 4% of AUD sufferers had their disease treated using a drug that has been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 10
  • People with AUD were more likely to visit a primary care doctor for an alcohol-related medical issue than for excessive alcohol consumption in and of itself.

Alcohol-Related Emergencies and Deaths in the United States

  • Between 2006 and 2014, the rate of all alcohol-related emergency department visits grew by 47%, or by an average of 210,000 visits each year. 13
  • About 18.5 percent of emergency room visits and 22.1 percent of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids are caused by alcohol.
  • Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of mortality in the United States, killing an estimated 95,000 people annually (about 68,000 men and 27,000 women), according to estimates15. Tobacco is the first, followed by a bad diet and inactivity.
  • In the United States, alcohol-related liver disease, heart disease, stroke, unspecified liver cirrhosis, upper aerodigestive tract cancers, liver cancer, supraventricular cardiac dysrhythmia, AUD, breast cancer, and hypertension were the leading causes of alcohol-related deaths resulting from chronic conditions between 2011 and 2015. 15
  • 10,142 people died as a result of drunk driving in 2019. (28.0 percent of overall driving fatalities).

Economic Burden in the United States

Alcohol abuse cost the United States $249 billion in 2010. 18

Alcohol binge drinking accounts for 75 percent of all costs associated with alcohol abuse.

Global Burden

  • Alcohol use was responsible for 3 million deaths in 2016, or 5.3% of all deaths worldwide (7.7% for males and 2.6 percent for women). 19
  • In 2016, alcohol abuse ranked as the seventh-highest risk factor for early death and disability worldwide.
  • Alcohol abuse was the number one risk factor for early death and disability among adults aged 15 to 49, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) research from 2014.
  • In 2016, alcohol use was a factor in almost 14% of all deaths among adults aged 20 to 39. 21
  • Alcohol intake was responsible for 134 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), or 5.3% of the global burden of disease and injury in 2016.
  • According to a 2018 WHO research, alcohol use increased the risk of more than 200 diseases and injury-related illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, suicide, HIV/AIDS, tb, and liver and road injuries.
  • In 2016, injuries accounted for 28.7% of deaths worldwide attributable to alcohol consumption, followed by digestive illnesses (21.3%, primarily liver cirrhosis and pancreatitis), 19% cardiovascular diseases, 12.9 percent infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, pneumonia, and HIV/AIDS), and 12.6 percent cancers (most prominently those of the upper aerodigestive tract.)

Consequences for Families in the United States

A 2017 study found that 7.5 million (or 10.5 percent) of American children aged 17 and under live with a parent who has AUD.

Underage Drinking in the United States

Prevalence of Underage Alcohol Use

  • Drinking prevalence: According to the 2019 NSDUH, 39.7% of 12- to 20-year-olds reported having had at least one alcoholic beverage. 25 In the past month, 7.0 million people between the ages of 12 and 2024 (18.5 percent of this age group25) reported drinking alcohol (17.2 percent of males and 19.9 percent of females25).
  • Binge drinking prevalence: The 2019 NSDUH found that 4.2 million people between the ages of 12 and 2024 reported binge drinking within the previous month. 11.1 percent of people in this age bracket are represented by this (10.4 percent of males ages 12 to 20 and 11.8 percent of females ages 12 to 2025).
  • Heavy Alcohol Use Prevalence: The 2019 NSDUH found that 825,000 persons aged 12 to 2024 reported using heavy alcohol in the previous month. 2.2% of people in this age range of 25 make up this (2.1 percent of males ages 12 to 20 and 2.3 percent of females ages 12 to 2025).

Trend in Underage Alcohol Use

Findings from the NSDUH have shown a decrease in underage drinking. For 16 to 17-year-olds, 14 to 15-year-olds, and 12- to 13-year-olds, the prevalence of past-30-day alcohol usage declined by 41.1 percent, 54.7 percent, and 61.9 percent, respectively, between 2002 and 2019.

Consequences of Underage Alcohol Use

According to research, using alcohol while still a teenager can hinder healthy brain development in adolescents and raise their likelihood of having AUD. Additionally, underage drinking is linked to a number of immediate effects, including a variety of injuries, sexual assaults, alcohol overdoses, and fatalities, including those resulting from car accidents.

Each year, alcohol contributes to the deaths of thousands of Americans under the age of 21. This comprises:

  • 1,092 people died in car accidents
  • 1,001 from murders
  • Deaths from drowning, falls, burns, and alcohol overdose total 208
  • From suicides, 596

Alcohol and Young Adults Ages 18 to 22

Prevalence of Alcohol Use

  • The 2019 NSDUH found that 47.1% of adults between the ages of 18 and 22 had consumed alcohol in the previous month. 52.5 percent of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 and 44.0 percent of all people in this age range reported drinking alcohol in the previous month.
  • Binge drinking prevalence: According to the 2019 NSDUH, 29.6% of adults between the ages of 18 and 22 reported binge drinking in the previous month. 33.0 percent of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 and 27.7 percent of all people in this age range reported binge drinking within the previous month.
  • The 2019 NSDUH found that 7.0 percent of adults, 8.2 percent of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22, and 6.4 percent of other people their age reported heavy alcohol usage in the previous month.

Consequences of Alcohol Use

  • Each year, alcohol contributes to the deaths of thousands of Americans between the ages of 18 and 22. According to the most recent NIAAA figures, this number includes 1,519 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 who pass away from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including car accidents. 
  • 8.1% of adults between the ages of 18 and 22 matched the requirements for past-year AUD, per the 2019 NSDUH. 8.7% of full-time college students between the ages of 18 and 22 and 7.7% of other people in this age range met the requirements for AUD.
  • Researchers have verified a long-standing finding that 1 in 5 college women experience sexual assault during their time in college, despite the fact that calculating the incidence of alcohol-related sexual assaults is extremely difficult because sexual assault is often underreported. 33 Most sexual assaults that occur in colleges involve alcohol or other drugs. 34,35 Research on the connections between alcohol use and sexual assault among college students is still ongoing. In order to more accurately estimate the number of assaults due to alcohol, additional national survey data are required.

Alcohol and Pregnancy in the United States

  • The 2019 NSDUH found that 9.5% of American pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 44 had consumed alcohol in the previous month. 36
  • The Institute of Medicine calculated that there were 0.5 to 3.0 cases of fetal alcohol syndrome per 1,000 live births in the United States in 1996.37
  • According to an NIAAA-funded research of more than 6,000 first graders from four different American communities, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders may affect 1 to 5 percent of first graders (FASD).

Alcohol and the Human Body

  • Alcohol use accounted for 43.1% of the 85,688 liver disease deaths in people 12 and older in 2019. 53,486 males died from liver disease, and alcohol use accounted for 45.6% of the deaths. Alcohol use accounted for 39.0 percent of the 32,202 fatalities from liver disease that occurred in females. 39
  • Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2015, 49.5 percent were alcohol related. People aged 25 to 34 made up the largest percentage of those who died from alcohol-related cirrhosis (76.8%), followed by those aged 35 to 44 (72.7%). 40
  • In the United States, nearly 1 in 3 liver transplants between 2010 and 2016 were due to alcohol-related liver disease, which replaced hepatitis C virus infection as the main reason for liver transplantation due to chronic liver disease.
  • Alcohol abusers are more likely to develop liver disease,43 heart disease, depression, stroke, and stomach hemorrhage, as well as oral, esophageal, laryngeal, pharyngeal, liver, colon, and rectum malignancies, according to research. 46 These people may also struggle to control illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, pain, and sleep issues. They may enhance their likelihood of dangerous sexual conduct.
  • Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of drowning47, injuries from violence48, falls49, and car accidents49. 49,50 Alcohol intake is also linked to an increased risk of female breast cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, and negative drug interactions (particularly in people who inherit a defect in an enzyme involved in alcohol metabolism). 53,54,55,56 Alcohol use has been related to an increased risk of FASD in children of pregnant mothers who drink.

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