How Many People Die Annually From Alcohol Abuse In The U.S.?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 7, 2020

Alcohol ranks third in “preventable cause of death” in the United States, underneath smoking and poor diet/physical inactivity. The number of alcohol-related deaths may be surprising.

Annual Deaths From Alcohol Abuse

Nearly everyone knows someone who abuses alcohol. Alcohol knows no boundaries, alcohol does not care where you live, what you do, who you are.

Alcohol is the most socially accepted substance of abuse. Alcohol is available at bars, most stores, sporting events, and concerts. People “pre-game” by drinking alcohol before going out to drink more alcohol.

The statistics surrounding alcohol abuse are incredibly alarming and almost completely preventable.

Terms Related to Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a brain disease that is characterized by the inability to stop consuming alcohol, even when drinking negatively impacts nearly all aspects of life. When a person receives an AUD diagnosis, they will also receive a subclassification of mild, moderate, or severe.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in your blood due to alcohol consumption. BAC can be determined by a breathalyzer or blood test.

Binge Drinking A person is binge drinking if five drinks are consumed for men, and four are consumed for women, in a short amount of time, at least once per month. This type of alcohol consumption usually brings a BAC to about 0.08 g/dL.

Heavy Drinking binge drinking that occurs more than five days in a month.

Statistics On Alcohol Abuse

Check out the facts below to learn the statistics on alcohol abuse and related deaths:

  • 86.3 percent of all adults have consumed alcohol in their lifetime
  • 25.1 percent of adults drank enough to meet the criteria for heavy drinking in the previous 12 months.
  • Over 10 percent of children live in a home that one or more parents have a drinking issue.
  • 33.1 percent of those 18 and over stated they had engaged in heavy drinking or binge drinking in the last month
  • Over 14 million adults in the United States had alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • Of that 14 million, just under eight percent received treatment
  • From 2011-2015 the average number of people who died due to excessive alcohol use was 93,000 per year.

Females And Alcohol Abuse

Females that abuse alcohol are at high risk for a multitude of problems. Alcohol consumption lowers inhibitions and a person may engage in behaviors and situations that are out of character for them, and with significant negative consequences.

Regular excessive drinking has resulted in a disruption in menstrual cycles in females and can lead to infertility.

Binge drinking has been linked to an increase in sexual assaults, most often in college students.

Males And Alcohol Abuse

Males engage in binge drinking twice as often as females, they drink more often and consume more alcohol as well.

The following list occurs more often in males than females:

  • Rates of suicide in men are higher than women
  • Males are involved in more drunk driving and fatal car accident incidents than women
  • Males are typically more violent than females while drunk
  • Males who abuse alcohol are at a higher risk for cancer

Teenage Alcohol Abuse

More than half of teens (twelve and over) admit to drinking alcohol. At these ages, alcohol consumption can be quite harmful. The brain is still developing important pathways that the child will need well into adulthood.

Drinking at a young age significantly increases the risk of developing an AUD. Young people often don’t have the self-control to manage their drinking, and they also may drink more due to peer pressure.

Teens tend to engage in dangerous behaviors while drinking. Having unprotected sex, problems with authority or law enforcement, and using other drugs are only a couple of the risk factors associated with teen drinking.

Signs Of Alcohol Abuse

Because alcohol is socially accepted and available almost anywhere, it may be hard to recognize when a person is crossing the threshold into developing an AUD.

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According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Statisticians Manual-5th Edition), the following are some signs that a person may be struggling with an AUD:

  • Drinking so much alcohol that they don’t remember what they said or did- called blacking out.
  • Doing dangerous things while drunk, like driving a car or taking strangers home
  • Issues with authorities
  • Developing problems with responsibilities (work, school, relationships)
  • Continuing to drink in spite of developing health issues related to drinking

Immediate Health Risks Due To Alcohol Abuse

When a person engages in excessive drinking, especially binge drinking, they tend to make poor decisions.

This can lead to several short-term risks, such as:

  • Risky sexual activities, including sex with strangers, unprotected sex, or sex with more than one person at a time. Unintended pregnancies or STI’s can result.
  • Violent behaviors like sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, homicide, and suicide
  • Accidents like car crashes, burns, drownings, and falls.
  • Birthing complications, miscarriage, stillbirths or birth defects if the person is pregnant

Long Term Risks From Alcohol Abuse

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a period of time can lead to diseases, conditions and other problems, including:

  • Developing an AUD
  • Cancer
  • Memory issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship issues
  • Immune system impairment

Treatment for AUD

The best way to manage an alcohol use disorder is to seek the help of an addiction specialist or program. These individuals are experienced in treating substance abuse and addiction and can help you find your way to a clean and sober life.

Reach out to our placement specialists today and let them help you find a solution that works for you or your loved one.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 7, 2020
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