Understanding alcohol addiction

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2019, over 60% of Americans admitted to having drunk alcohol in the past year, though most would not say they had an alcohol problem. It is possible to consume alcohol without being an alcoholic; however, if your life is negatively affected by alcohol, you may have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

General alcohol abuse statistics

  • Over 14.5 million people aged 12 and over struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States
  • Less than 10% of those receive treatment or attend rehabilitation centers
  • More than 65 million Americans report binge drinking or heavy drinking in a one-month period, which is more than 40% of those who drink alcohol
  • In 2018, there were 10,511 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, totaling 29% of all traffic fatalities for the year 
  • Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

Alcohol abuse statistics for women

  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 5.3 million women aged 18 and older have an alcohol use disorder
  • Approximately half of women of childbearing age drink, and 18% of women in this group binge drink (drinking on average five drinks per binge)
  • More than 45% of all adult women report drinking alcohol in the last month, and 12% of these report binge drinking
  • Alcohol addiction in women has increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013, according to a 2017 study sponsored by the NIAAA
  • “High-risk” drinking in women, defined as more than three drinks in a day or more than seven in a week, is on the rise, with an increase of 58% between 2001 and 2011 according to the 2017 study by the NIAAA
  • Experts estimate that approximately 40,000 babies may be born with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in the United States each year, and up to 8,000 of those with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)

Alcohol abuse statistics for men

Nearly 60% of adult men report drinking alcohol in the last month; with 23% of them reporting binge drinking five or more times per month

  • Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women
  • Approximately 8.4% of men met the criteria for alcohol dependence in the last year
  • Men are nearly twice as likely as women to drink-drive and be involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic accidents while under the influence of alcohol
  • Men are more likely than women to die by suicide while under the influence of alcohol
  • Male-dominated professions and businesses often have higher rates of alcohol-related problems than female-led ones

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)