To many people, alcohol is just another beverage. Fewer than 15 percent of the U.S. population are complete teetotalers, and many “social drinkers” suffer no significant ill effects. However, this is just one of many alcohol abuse statistics that paint a full picture of America’s drinking problem. The reality is that this substance can wreak havoc on lives around the country.
Unfortunately, most people are poor judges of whether alcohol is doing them any harm—possibly deadly harm. In the United States, 95,000 fatalities a year are alcohol-related. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), irresponsible drinking shortens expected life span by nearly 30 years.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics: Overdoing It
Unfortunately, about one person in four admits to binging on multiple drinks at a time. The CDC estimates the average number of drinks per binge as eight—twice the minimum binge level of 4–5, and 70 times as likely to land someone in the emergency room.
It can get even worse. An average of six people a day, or 2,200 a year, die from alcohol poisoning after binging until their blood alcohol levels rise to more than their bodies can metabolize. At this point, basic bodily functions become seriously impaired, and the person’s life may depend on prompt medical help.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics: Accidents
Even much smaller amounts of alcohol can cause trouble. Legally, a person can be charged with driving under the influence when blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.08 percent—but even at 0.02 percent, judgment and visual focus are affected, and so is a person’s reaction time when they’re driving home at 60 miles per hour (90 feet per second) and an obstacle appears in their freeway lane.
By 0.08 percent BAC, a driver’s chances of being in a crash are 2.69 times greater than for a person who has consumed no alcohol—meaning that the risk doubles well before BAC reaches the legal limit. Alcohol is a factor in 28 percent of traffic-related deaths in the United States, with an average of 29 fatalities every day (one every 50–53 minutes). Not to mention the financial costs linked to alcohol-related crashes—over $44 billion a year—and the costs of processing the one million drunk-driving arrests made annually.
Nor does every alcohol-related accident occur on the road. Thousands of people are seriously injured every year by falling down (or falling down stairs or off balconies) while intoxicated. Alcohol drinking also frequently co-occurs with domestic violence, which claims at least three lives in the United States every day. And the CDC estimates the total economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption at nearly $250 billion a year.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics: Addiction
Not all the costs are sudden and violent: even more people are literally drinking themselves to death. In the United States, over 14.5 million people (including over 400,000 people under 18, some as young as 12) have diagnosable alcohol use disorder—and fewer than 8 percent a year get any help for it. Besides the 200-plus health issues that can be triggered or exacerbated by alcohol, and the fact that 30 percent of alcohol poisoning fatalities happen to people with alcoholism, the disorder slowly eats away the productivity, reliability, relationships, and self-esteem of everyone who has it.
Even trying to quit alcohol can be dangerous. Nearly everyone with alcohol addiction suffers headaches, nausea, jitters, and brain fog as withdrawal symptoms if they stop “cold,” but about 4 percent (mostly the heaviest drinkers) also suffer potentially deadly alcohol withdrawal delirium. This dangerous condition typically begins around the third day of abstinence and can last as long as a week: common symptoms include racing heart, fever, hallucinations, delusions, violent body shaking, and sometimes seizures. Around 1 in 25 cases are fatal.
Don’t Become a Statistic
Due to the risk of withdrawal symptoms, anyone who may have alcohol use disorder is well advised to consult a doctor before throwing away the bottles. Arrange to detox in a hospital, under the supervision of medical personnel who can prescribe medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. Get follow-up therapy, and get all the support you can in staying sober.
For those who don’t already have drinking problems, the surest way to avoid developing one is to not drink at all, especially if alcoholism has ever been a problem in your family. Although it may seem unfair that other people drink regularly, you can live as happily—not to mention healthier—by focusing on purposeful goals, meaningful work, and human relationships. And to make the most of any of these, one essential is a consistently clear head.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Hemet, California
It’s rarely safe to attempt cold-turkey withdrawal from any addiction, and alcohol is among the riskiest substances to “just stop.” If alcohol addiction is a problem for you, the safest place to get sober (and arrange for follow-up counseling to stay sober) is in a hospital, under the supervision of licensed healthcare workers. Consider Hemet Valley Recovery Center if you’re convenient to California’s Inland Empire: we guarantee a program customized to your unique needs, plus treatment for any co-occurring physical or mental disorders that may influence drinking habits. Contact us to learn more!
- “Alcohol Facts and Statistics: Alcohol Use in the United States.” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
- “Alcohol Poisoning Deaths: A deadly consequence of binge drinking.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- “Alcohol Use and Your Health.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- “Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium.” (Healthline.com)
- “The Combination of Domestic Abuse and Alcohol.” (VeryWellMind.com)
- “Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms.” (VeryWellMind.com)
- “Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence Facts.” (Emory University School of Medicine)
- “Drunken falls cause more deaths than drunken driving in Wisconsin.” (The Capital Times, 05/10/2015)
- “Falls from a balcony while intoxicated: a new injury trend among young adults?” (Injury Epidemiology, 02/11/2019)
- “How Alcohol Impairs Your Ability to Drive.” (Michigan Health/University of Michigan)
- “Impaired Driving: Get the Facts.” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- “Quitting alcohol can be deadly: Hundreds in the US die each year.” (USA Today, 11/27/2018)