Alcohol is one of the most commonly ingested substances in the world. Unfortunately, it is often abused. Approximately 15 million Americans are diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder per year, and it’s estimated that 136 million Americans currently use alcohol, a number that equals roughly one-third of the population in 2016.

The term alcohol use disorder can be used interchangeably with alcoholism, alcohol misuse, alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. This disorder contributes to more than 200 separate health conditions and alcohol-related injuries. Alcohol misuse costs the United States approximately $250 billion dollars annually.

Many individuals have their first alcoholic beverage before entering high school and are unaware of the dangers of excessive alcohol use. Early exposure to alcohol can have damaging and long-lasting effects on brain development. Although experiences differ from one individual to the next, it is important to have an understanding of key alcohol statistics and facts.

Alcohol Statistics by Age

Alcohol use trends vary by age in America. Both young adults (18-25) and adults (26 and older) report the highest rate of current alcohol use relative to older adults (65 and older) or teenagers (12-17).

Binge drinking involves having five or more drinks on one occasion in the past month for males, or four drinks for females. Heavy alcohol use involves binge drinking on five or more days in the past month. Young adults report the highest rates of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use.

Alcohol Statistics in Adults

Among young adults ages 18-25, alcohol use statistics include:

  • Approximately 56% of young adults reported current alcohol use
  • Almost 40% of young adults reported binge drinking in the past month
  • Nearly 10% of young adults reported heavy alcohol use in the past month

It is well understood that alcohol impacts the brain’s ability to function. Since the brain is not fully developed until the age of 25, young adults should exercise caution when consuming alcohol.

Among adults aged 26 and over alcohol use statistics include:

  • Approximately 55.8% of adults reported currently using alcohol
  • Nearly 25% of adults reported binge drinking in the past month
  • Close to 6% of adults reported heavy alcohol use in the past month

For adults, excessive alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk for head and neck, esophageal, liver and colorectal cancers for both men and women, and increased breast cancer risk for women.

Alcohol Statistics in Teens

Among teenagers ages 12-17 alcohol use statistics include:

  • Close to 10% of participants reported currently using alcohol
  • 5.3% of teens reported binge drinking in the past month
  • 0.7% of teens reported heavy alcohol use in the past month

Alcohol Statistics in Pre-Pubescent

For teenagers, particularly in the pre-pubescent stage, alcohol can impact sex hormones and delay puberty. In a study conducted in 2016, 7.3 million adolescents ages 12-20 reported currently using alcohol despite its illegality for this age group.

Of the adolescents currently using alcohol, approximately 4.5 million (63%) reported binge drinking, while 1.1 million (15%) reported heavy alcohol use.

Alcohol Statistics in Seniors

In seniors aged 65 and older alcohol statistics include:

  • 40% of seniors reported currently using alcohol
  • Older adults have less tolerance for alcohol as they age
  • Seniors who partake in heavy alcohol use are more likely to experience health problems
  • Having more than three drinks per day or seven drinks per week for older adults can lead to increased health issues like diabetes, memory issues, mood disorders, and heart failure.

In particular, seniors who mix alcohol and their medications can have more severe reactions than their younger counterparts.

Alcohol Statistics in Genders

Physical differences between men and women greatly impact how alcohol is metabolized, among many other epidemiological factors. Some gender-specific statistics on alcohol use include:

  • Men are more likely to be current drinkers than women
  • Men are more likely to partake in excessive alcohol use than women
  • Men have a higher rate of alcohol-related hospitalizations than women
  • Men are more likely to binge drink than women
  • Women are more likely to abstain from alcohol use over their lifetime
  • Alcohol use disorder in women is on the rise
  • Women have higher blood alcohol levels than men after consumption of the same amount of alcohol
  • Women are more likely to have long-term health issues from drinking, including liver disease and cancer
  • Close to 10% of women drink alcohol while pregnant
  • Bisexual or lesbian women are more likely to have an alcohol use disorder than heterosexual women, but research is inconsistent in comparing alcohol use in gay men and heterosexual men

Alcohol Statistics by Race and Ethnicity

An alcohol use disorder crosses age, biological sex, ethnicity, and other factors. However, statistics suggest that certain ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by alcohol use:

  • Women of Native American descent have a higher mortality rate from cirrhosis compared to other ethnic groups in the United States
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome is five times more prevalent in Native Americans living in Alaska than in Caucasians
  • Caucasian Americans consume about 10% more alcohol than African Americans
  • More than 20% of Hispanic American individuals are binge drinkers
  • Asian Americans are the least likely to drink of all ethnic groups
  • African Americans are more likely to experience many health issues associated with alcohol use, including liver cirrhosis, cancer and heart disease

Alcohol Statistics by Education Level

In a study comparing Caucasian Americans and African Americans, there were several differences between education and alcohol use:

  • In all American adults, alcohol use was associated with higher levels of education
  • In Caucasian Americans, both high-school and college graduation was associated with alcohol use
  • In African Americans, only high-school, but not college graduation was associated with alcohol use

Alcohol Statistics by Employment Status

In a study conducted in the United Kingdom, employment status was defined as working, unemployed or economically inactive.

This study found that employed individuals were more likely to consume alcoholic beverages and partake in heavy alcohol use than those who were unemployed or economically inactive.

Drunk Driving Statistics

One of the many dangers of alcohol consumption involves an individual putting themselves or others at risk while under the influence.

Every fifty minutes, a person in the United States dies from motor vehicle accidents related to alcohol use.

Other informative drunk driving statistics include:

  • Per day, twenty-nine individuals die from motor vehicle accidents involving a driver impaired by alcohol
  • Alcohol-related deaths made up nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in 2016
  • In 2016, 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • Every year, alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents cost the United States $44 billion dollars

Alcohol Poisoning and Alcohol-Related Death Statistics

Alcohol poisoning is responsible for thousands of injuries and fatalities every year in the United States. Some surprising statistics on alcohol poisoning and other alcohol-related deaths include:

  • Approximately 2,200 individuals die from alcohol poisoning every year
  • The highest rates of alcohol poisoning deaths occur in adults ages 45-54
  • The highest percentage of individuals who die from alcohol poisoning are non-Hispanic Caucasian Americans
  • Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States
  • Men are more likely to commit suicide than women after drinking alcohol

Rates of Alcohol Relapse

Even after seeking alcohol addiction treatment at a rehab facility, many individuals will relapse, or return to alcohol. Alcohol relapse statistics suggest that approximately half of the individuals who were treated for alcohol use disorder will relapse within the year. Thus, it is critical for individuals who have relapsed with alcohol to reach out to their friends, family, and acquaintances for continued support and understanding. Creating a relapse prevention plan may also be helpful.

Statistics on Alcohol Treatment and Recovery

The success rates of rehabilitation programs vary widely depending on the center, the individual and the specific study used to determine the success rate. Nevertheless, most alcohol treatment and recovery centers focus on evidence-based treatment that is tailored to each individual and their needs.

  • Approximately 1.8% of teenagers ages 12-17 have an alcohol use disorder
  • Approximately 10% of young adults ages 18-25 have an alcohol use disorder
  • Close to 5% of adults aged 26 and older have an alcohol use disorder
  • Approximately 14.5 million people age 12 and older have an alcohol use disorder in the United States and would likely benefit from rehab
  • Nearly 21 million people age 12 and older met criteria for needing substance use treatment in 2017
  • Only 4 million people age 12 and older who needed substance use treatment received it in the past year
  • About 35% of individuals who enter treatment do so for an alcohol use disorder

Key Points: Alcohol Statistics

There are several important takeaways about alcohol use statistics, including:

  • Alcohol use differs substantially by age, biological sex, race and ethnicity, education and employment status
  • Excessive alcohol use leads to many health problems and injuries
  • An alcohol use disorder can be treated by medical professionals at a rehab facility

Alcohol addiction is a common struggle for thousands of people. The Recovery Village® has a trained team of medical professionals and clinical counselors ready to help you or someone you know overcome alcohol use disorder. Call The Recovery Village today to learn more about alcohol addiction treatment at one of our facilities.