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Alcohol Statistics

Alcohol Statistics

Data on Alcohol Abuse
According to recent statistics, over 16 million adults have an alcohol addiction. Alcohol is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., and kills about 88,000 people a year. More than 41% of all substance abuse treatment admissions in the U.S. involve alcohol. However, very few people who need treatment actually receive it.

Most people have had their lives impacted by alcohol addiction. Alcohol abuse and addiction are serious issues that many people face because of either their own alcohol consumption or that of a family member, friend, or co-worker. An understanding of our national alcoholism statistics can help those affected by alcohol use to better see how this serious health condition reaches people of all ages, races, and socio-economic groups. The numbers are staggering, and underscore the serious need for effective alcohol rehabilitation methods.

The following statistics provide information about alcoholism and alcohol rehab in the U.S. While some of these numbers might seem surprising, they are indicative of the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and their effect on:

  • An individual’s mental, physical, and social well-being.
  • The people surrounding and supporting the individual, such as family, friends, co-workers, and employers.
  • The cost to the healthcare and workforce systems.
  • Differing age groups, including youth and college-aged students.

Alcohol Use

luxury-shutter383405461-alcohol-depressionDrinking is prevalent among adults. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):

  • More than 87% of people ages 18 and older report drinking in their lifetime.
  • 71% of these people reported drinking in the last year.
  • More than 56% reported drinking in the past month.
  • More than 24% reported binge and heavy drinking within the past year.

Alcohol Use Disorders and Treatment

In the U.S., 16.3 million adults (10.6 million men and 5.7 million women) were reported as having an alcohol use disorder (AUD). About 1.5 million adults — less than 1 out of every 10 people struggling with alcoholism — were reported to have received treatment at a specialized AUD facility.

Alcohol-Related Health Risks, Injuries, and Fatalities

Alcohol harms the body and can increase risk of death, injury, and health problems. It also can impair judgment, possibly leading to vehicular injuries and fatalities, as well as an increased risk of assault.

According to the NIAAA:

  • Alcohol consumption caused 3.3 million deaths in 2012.
  • Alcohol-impaired driving accounted for more than 31% of vehicular fatalities in 2014.
  • Alcohol is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., with about 88,000 people dying of alcohol-related causes yearly.
  • Alcohol complicates existing health problems and increases the risk of experiencing others, such as:
    • Liver disease and cirrhosis.
    • Injuries.
    • Cancers, such as those of the mouth, pharynx, liver, breast, and esophagus.
  • Alcohol use increases the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome in babies born to mothers who drink.
  • Alcohol use increases the risk of premature death.

Alcohol and Youth

luxury-shutter125982872-alcohol-and-youthAlcohol use, particularly during adolescence and teenage years, can interfere with normal development. Underage alcohol use can contribute to:

  • Interference in normal brain and body development.
  • Higher risk of developing an AUD.
  • Increased risk of injury, sexual assault, and fatality.

Some of the consequences of college-age drinking include the facts that:

  • An estimated 696,000 students are sexually assaulted by another who has been drinking each year
  • About 25% of students who drink experience academic consequences such as missing classes, doing poorly on tests, and falling behind overall.
  • About 20% of college students meet the criteria for an AUD.

Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Family

The whole family of a person who abuses alcohol feels the burden emotionally, financially, and developmentally. According to the NIAAA, at least 10% of children live or have lived with a parent who has some kind of alcohol issue.

Effect of Alcohol Abuse on the Economy

Alcohol abuse costs the US healthcare system more than $25 billion annually. Overall costs — which include crime, lost work, and health care — ring in at about $224 billion. The majority of this cost, about 72%, is caused by a decrease in workplace productivity.

If you feel that you or someone close to you has a problem with alcohol, call 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers? to speak with a rehab placement specialist today.

Alcohol Rehab in the U.S.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), periodically administers a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which also includes questions on alcohol use. In addition to this survey, SAMHSA reports information about admission and discharge from treatment facilities. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set, more than 41% of all treatment admissions involved alcohol use.

Although rates of alcohol abuse reportedly have declined from 18.1 million in 2002 to 17.3 million in 2013, it appears there’s still a large treatment gap. An estimated 22 million people need treatment for alcohol and other drug use, but less than 1% of those people receive any form of substance abuse treatment.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 23% of admissions to public rehab programs are due to alcohol abuse or addiction. The same study found that more than 18% of people who enter treatment do so as a result of alcohol abuse and another drug addiction.

In publicly funded alcohol rehab facilities, admissions by age range are as follows:

  • The 25- to 29-year-old age range made up the highest percentage of admissions to treatment (14.8%).
  • The 20- to 24-year-old age range was the second highest (14.4%).
  • The 40- to 44-year-old age range was the third highest (12.6%).

Admissions by race and ethnicity were as follows:

  • 8% Caucasian
  • 9% African American
  • 7% Hispanic
  • 3% American Indian or Alaska Native
  • 1% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 3% Other

Helping Someone Who Needs Alcohol Rehab

luxury-shutter402421849-helping-an-alcoholicA common occurrence amongst those with alcohol use disorders is the individual’s denial that the disorder exists. Even if a person has admitted to having a problem with alcohol, the idea of stopping can feel complex.

When someone who’s dependent on alcohol quits drinking, they might experience withdrawal symptoms during detox, the period of time during which the body rids itself of a substance. Depending on the length and amount of alcohol use, the withdrawal process can lead to lethal complications. Awareness of this risk might increase the fear of stopping. Professional detox treatment can mitigate the potentially serious effects of acute alcohol withdrawal — making it as safe and comfortable as possible.

The participation and support of family and friends can make a huge difference in the success of someone’s treatment for an AUD. This disorder carries with it habitual behaviors that, like any habit, require persistence to shift and change. Family and friends can be attentive to the moods and behaviors as indicators of success or potential setbacks, and they can be part of the wellness plan. There are also support groups for family and friends of those suffering with AUD.

Most people who suffer from an AUD would benefit from some type of treatment. About 1 in 3 people who seek and receive treatment for alcohol use reportedly have continued to abstain from alcohol use a year later. Health outcomes improve. Others reduce their drinking, and in turn, their alcohol-induced health problems have also decreased substantially.

There are multiple options for treatment, including:

  • Behavioral interventions.
  • Medications.
  • Support and self-help groups.

Behavioral treatments focus on changing behaviors. They might include a cognitive (or thought process) component. Inpatient and outpatient facilities offer individual and group counseling sessions, which are generally led by professionals but sometimes are led by peers. Some methods used in behavioral counseling sessions may be:

Medication-assisted treatments are generally prescribed by a primary care physician or a psychiatrist. They might be used with other therapeutic treatments. Some medications currently used to treat AUD are:

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol).
  • Acamporsate (Campral).
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse).

Current research has shown that other medications are also showing some success in treating AUD. These drugs include varenicline (Chantix), neurontin (Gabapentin), and topiramate (Topamax).

Alcohol Abuse and Relapse

Alcohol use disorder is considered a chronic condition that often has periods of relapse or “slipping.” Persistence and consistency of treatment is key. Just like someone with a chronic health issue such as asthma or diabetes, it is not uncommon for a person with AUD to have a symptom “flare.”

Seeking help, having a strong support system, and developing skills to cope with these periods of increased stress can increase the likelihood of continued rehab success. Twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are options for self-help and peer support.

Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse

Some people resist treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction because they want to deal with the problem alone without outside assistance. It may take some time and effort to break through this denial and get the help you need. Alcohol rehab programs can provide real help.

For more information on alcohol addiction treatment services, call 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers?. Our rehab placement specialists can answer questions and help you find an alcohol rehab program that is best for you. Call today to get started on the road to recovery.


  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2016). Alcohol Facts and Statistics.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015). Trends and Statistics.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Excessive drinking costs US $223.5 Billion.
  4. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2014). Treatment for alcohol problems: Finding and getting help.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2011). Drugfacts: Treatment statistics.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2015). Drugfacts: Nationwide trends.
  7. Kattimani, S. & Bharadwaj, B. (2013). Clinical Management of Alcohol Withdrawal: A Systematic Review.  Ind Psychiatry; Jul-Dec 22 (2); 100-108.

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