If people regularly consume alcohol but don’t pay attention to how often and how much they drink, it can become an addiction.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about alcohol addiction and share a few key statistics to help you make your own decisions about alcohol.
Why Alcohol Addiction Is So Common
Alcohol lights up the pleasure centers in your brain and dulls the negative emotion centers. That’s why millions of people have reported binge drinking alcohol after a rough or unpleasant day.
However, your brain can start to crave that feeling of pleasure and euphoria regularly. That’s when it becomes difficult to control your drinking and the main reason behind excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, since alcohol is easier to access than drugs or illegal substances, there’s a much higher chance of getting addicted to it.
What Counts As Excessive Alcohol Use?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), excessive drinking or alcohol misuse includes the following:
- Binge Drinking: This includes five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in one sitting (a duration of less than 2 hours)
- Underage Drinking: Any alcohol consumption by those under 21 years of age
- Pregnant Drinking: Any alcohol consumption by pregnant women
- Heavy Drinking: This includes 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks per week for women
Prevalence of Alcohol Addiction
Global estimates for 2022 showed that about 107 million people around the world suffer from alcohol use disorder. Approximately 70% (75 million) are men, while the remaining 30% (32 million) are women.
Here are a few other important statistics on global alcohol use:
- The average person older than 15 years consumed about one bottle of wine per week in 2018.
- Alcohol consumption is highest in Europe, especially Czechia, with the average Czechian drinking about two bottles of wine weekly.
- African and Middle Eastern countries show the least alcohol consumption or misuse, mainly due to cultural and religious factors.
According to the SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) most recent drug abuse survey for 2022, about 29.5 million Americans ages 12 and older suffered from alcohol addiction. That’s about 10.5% of all Americans in that age group.
The SAMHSA survey found that about 17.4 million of these Americans were men, while 12.2 million were women.
Alcohol addiction costs the United States about $250 billion every year.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics By Age
According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, the age groups with the highest records for alcohol use are between 18-25 and 26 and older. These young adults also have the highest rates of binge alcoholics and heavy drinkers.
On the other hand, teenagers between 12 and 17 years old and seniors of 65 years and older displayed less alcohol use.
Here’s the NSDUH’s 2022 breakdown of alcohol addiction according to age groups:
Adults Ages 18 and older
- 28.8 million adults suffered from alcohol abuse disorder in 2022
- About 17.1 million of these adults were men (almost 60%)
- Nearly 11.7 million adults were women (almost 40%)
It’s worth noting that before the age of 25, most human brains aren’t fully developed. Since alcohol can affect the way our brains look and work, young adults should be careful about the amount of alcohol they consume.
Heavy alcohol consumption, in particular, can lead to major differences between an alcoholic brain and a normal brain.
Teens Ages 12-17
- About 753,000 teenagers in this age group suffered from alcohol addiction in 2022
- Nearly 37% of these teenagers were boys, while about 63% were girls
Alcohol consumption is especially dangerous for young teenagers in this age group. Not only can it impact the development of their brains, but it can also interfere with their sex hormones, delaying puberty.
Underage Alcohol Use
Those under 21 years old aren’t legally allowed to drink in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. However, the 2022 NSDUH survey still reported a large number of alcohol users between ages 12 and 20.
- Almost 6 million young Americans between 12 and 20 years old reported drinking the previous month.
- Nearly 3.2 million of them reported binge drinking
- More than 600,000 underage Americans reported heavy alcohol use
Seniors (65 Years and Older)
According to the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), alcohol is the number one used drug among seniors. According to the NIDA’s surveys:
- Almost 65% of seniors have reported high-risk drinking weekly, which means drinking more than the recommended daily amount.
- Nearly 10% of seniors binge drink.
- Most seniors who undergo substance abuse treatment join these programs because of alcohol use.
It’s worth noting that alcohol use in seniors can cause all kinds of health problems or worsen preexisting ones. This includes conditions like high blood pressure, osteoporosis, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Alcohol Statistics by Gender
How your body absorbs and metabolizes alcohol varies depending on your gender. It’s much easier for women to become intoxicated if both a man and a woman drink the same amount of alcohol.
This is because men have more alcohol-destroying enzymes (called ADH) in their stomachs than women do. These enzymes reduce alcohol absorption in men by 30%.
This is also the reason women can have a higher BAC (blood alcohol content) than men who drink the same amount.
Here are a few other significant statistics when it comes to alcohol and gender, according to the CDC:
- Men are more likely to binge drink than women
- In 2020, more men (13%) suffered from alcohol dependence than women (9%)
- Men have higher rates of hospitalization due to alcohol than women do
Alcohol Statistics by Race and Ethnicity
Ethnicity is another factor that can affect how your body processes alcohol and how likely you are to develop an alcohol addiction.
Statistics show that:
- Caucasian Americans drink about 10% more alcohol than African Americans
- More than 20% of Hispanic Americans binge drink alcohol
- Asian Americans are the least likely to suffer from alcohol use disorder out of all the ethnic groups
- African Americans have a higher risk of developing health problems due to alcohol, such as alcoholic liver disease, cancer, alcoholic jaundice, and heart disease.
- FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) is five times more common in Native Americans, especially those living in Alaska, than Caucasians.
Alcohol Abuse Among Veterans
Alcohol is the number one misused substance by Veterans. It’s usually due to difficulty going back to civilian life after deployment, as it acts like self-medication for undiagnosed mental conditions, such as PTSD.
According to NIDA reports:
- More than 20% of all service members heavily drink alcohol
- One in every three active-duty service members binge drink alcohol
- Veterans are much more likely to drink heavily than non-Veterans
- Alcohol is the number one substance linked to non-fatal overdoses in homeless Veterans
- Over 65% of Veterans who join addiction treatment programs suffer from alcohol addiction
This is why loved ones of Veterans need to keep an eye out for signs of alcohol addiction.
Alcohol Abuse and Education Level
In 2019, a huge study that included about 780,000 participants explored the relationship between alcohol addiction and education level.
After extensive research, the study concluded that people with a higher educational level:
- Are less likely to binge drink
- Have fewer total drinks on drinking days
- Drink more frequently at meals
- Drink more beverages that contain a moderate amount of alcohol, such as wine.
- Less likely to have an alcoholic blackout or experience memory loss due to drinking
The study also found that adding 3.61 years of schooling can significantly reduce the risk of alcohol abuse by almost 50%.
Alcohol Abuse and Employment Status
A comprehensive review of over 130 different studies has proven that there’s a direct link between unemployment and alcohol addiction.
These studies found that being unemployed, especially for the past year or so, can affect how much alcohol you drink on average and how frequently you drink heavily.
A few key statistics include:
- Unemployed individuals are 87% more likely to drink heavily
- Unemployed people are 29% more likely to become alcohol dependent
Alcohol Addiction and Income Level
Despite popular belief, studies have shown that the higher your income, the more likely you are to drink.
For example, the professions with the highest rate of alcohol abuse include lawyers, nurses, healthcare professionals, managers, construction workers, and real estate agents.
According to a survey by the American Addictions Centers:
- One in every five attorneys suffers from alcohol addiction, binge drinking, or heavy drinking.
- About 5% of real estate agents have reported struggling with heavy drinking.
- Nearly 9% of white-collar managers have suffered from heavy drinking
Health Consequences of Alcohol Addiction
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), excessive alcohol use is linked to over 200 diseases and health problems. It often leads to disabilities early on in life and even death.
Here are a few noteworthy statistics on the health consequences of alcohol:
- 5.1% of diseases or injuries around the world are linked to alcohol
- Alcohol misuse leads to about 1.7 million emergency department visits each year
- Alcohol abuse is the seventh most common risk factor for premature death and disability
Alcohol Addiction and Cancer
Adults aged 18 and older should be careful when drinking alcohol because it increases their risk of liver disease and cancer.
The American Cancer Society has linked alcohol use to mouth, throat, liver, voice box, colon, rectal, and breast cancers. They’ve even changed their recommendations for alcohol consumption because of this.
Instead of 1-2 drinks per day, they recommend cutting out alcohol altogether, especially if you or a family member has a history of cancer.
Alcohol consumption increases your chances of developing these cancers depending on how often and how heavily you drink.
Here are a few examples:
- Moderate alcohol consumption makes you 1.5-2.5 times more likely to develop head and neck cancer
- Heavy drinking makes you five times more likely to develop esophageal cancer
- Heavy alcohol use doubles your chances of liver cancer
- Moderate to heavy alcohol use can increase your chances of breast cancer 1-1.5 times.
- Alcohol is linked to about 13.5% of all deaths for people between the ages of 20 and 39 years old.
- Alcohol accounts for 7.7% of deaths in men and 2.6% of deaths in women.
- Between 2015 and 2019, more than 140,000 people died annually due to alcohol abuse.
- In 2020, almost 99,000 people died due to alcohol-related causes
- Alcohol use disorder is the second most common mental disorder, accounting for one in four deaths by suicide.
- Alcohol addiction is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
- Native Americans and Alaska Natives are the most likely ethnic group to die due to alcohol-related causes.
Alcohol and Impaired Driving
- Alcohol-impaired drivers result in one death every 45 minutes in the United States.
- Approximately 32 people die every day due to an alcohol-related vehicle accident.
Treatment and Recovery Statistics
With more people suffering from alcohol addiction each day, some insurance companies have now started to include alcohol recovery programs in their policies. However, most people don’t seek out the help they need.
For example, in 2020, about 40 million people needed a substance abuse treatment program in the United States. Of these 40 million, only four million joined a program. It could be a problem of affordability, but many people don’t believe the program can help them get sober.
That said, according to recent surveys by the Butler Center for Research, almost 89% of those who join alcohol addiction programs remain sober for the first month after rehab. And one in three people who receive treatment stay sober and recover for good.
Also, about 80% of the people who complete these programs have reported improvements in their quality of life. This proves that recovery is easily within your reach.
Millions of people struggle with alcohol addiction, but very few do something about it.
If you’re ready to take the step, Curednation offers telemedicine services that can guide you on your recovery journey from the comfort of your home.
It takes courage to ask for help and book an appointment, but it’s the first step to cutting out alcohol and taking back control of your life.