Alcoholism Statistics

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : October 08, 
| 4 Sources

Keeping a tab on the costs, human and financial, of alcohol.

Alcohol Use Disorder or alcoholism is a pattern of alcohol misuse that involves issues controlling your drinking, always thinking about alcohol, continuing to consume alcohol even when it already causes problems, drinking more to get the same effect, or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you greatly decrease or stop drinking.

Alcoholism, or problem drinking that turns severe, is a costly disease for society as well as those who struggle with addiction. For those who struggle with addiction, costs for alcohol, treatment options and the potential legal consequences from their drinking. For society, alcoholism contributes to crime rates which have an impact on the local economy.

When we look at alcoholism statistics, we gain insight into the costs and damage of alcoholism. The results can be quite staggering and surprising for some to learn.

If you want to learn more about alcoholism and its consequences, there is nothing like some real statistics.  These numbers can demonstrate the severity of the problem and how it actually affects its victims and the whole of society.

Below you will find alcoholism statistics and its impact on society.

Alcohol Related Definitions

Before we get into the statistics, let’s take a look at some of the specific requirements for terms that you will find below:

Binge Drinking: Binge drinking is the most deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the U.S. It is commonly understood as drinking a large quantity of alcohol in one occasion. Particularly, men who drink five or more alcoholic drinks or women who drink four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion would be classified as binge drinking.

Heavy Drinking: Binge drinking 5 or more days within the past month, for both men and women.

Alcohol Use Disorder: The clinical diagnosis for alcoholism described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. This is a chronic and progressive disease where an individual continues to drink alcohol despite experiencing occupational difficulties, legal concerns, financial concerns and interpersonal turmoil in relationships. This diagnosis comes in a range including Mild, Moderate and Severe which is dependent on the number of criteria the individual meets.

Alcoholism Statistics;
The Prevalence of Alcoholism

The following numbers are taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • A 2018 study showed that 86.3% of individuals 18 years old and older reported drinking at some point in their life. The same study showed that 70% of the individuals reported that they drank within the past year, and 55.3% reported drinking alcohol in the past month.
  • A study in 2018 showed that 26.45% of individuals 18 years old and older reported binge drinking in the past month, and 6.6% of those individuals reported in heavy alcohol use in the past month. 
  • A 2018 study showed that 14.4 million American Adults (5.8%) meet the clinical criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. This breaks down to 9.2 million men (7.6) and 5.3 million women (4.1%).

    • The same 2018 study showed that 7.9% of those individuals who meet criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, received some form of treatment for their addiction.
  • A 2018 study showed that approximately 401,000 adolescents ages 12-17 years old (1.6%) meet the clinical requirements for Alcohol Use Disorder. This breaks down to include approximately 173,000 males (1.4) and 227,000 females (1.9).eat

    • The same study showed that 5.0% of those adolescent who met the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder, received some form of treatment for their addiction.

Statistics of Alcoholism;
The Leading Abused Substance

In 2006 there were nearly 1.8 million admissions for treatment of alcohol and drug abuse to facilities that report to State administrative data systems. Most admissions (40 percent) were for alcohol treatment.

Since that time, it appears that the most common addiction has remained as an alcohol addiction. This may be surprising to some given the media attention regarding the opiate epidemic.

According to the American Addiction Centers, a study which produced the following findings comparing the prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder and other commonly used substances:

  • Alcohol Use Disorder was prevalent in approximately 14.5 million Americans ages 12 and older
  • Marijuana Use Disorder was prevalent in approximately 4.1 million Americans ages 12 and older
  • Opiate Use Disorder was prevalent in approximately 1.7 million Americans ages 12 and older
  • Cocaine Use Disorder was prevalent in approximately 966,000 American Adults
  • Heroin Use Disorder was prevalent in approximately 652,000 American Adults

Statistics on Alcoholism
the Cost of Alcohol

Alcoholism statistics on the economic costs to society reveal amazing facts.

First we see the diversified range of costs, from direct treatment and lost employment to victims of alcohol related crimes and the health costs of alcohol abuse.

Second, alcohol dependence and abuse cost the US approximately $249 billion in 2017.  This is an increase from costing $220 billion in 2005.

When we look at the global cost of alcoholism, there were 3.3 million deaths (5. 9) in 2012. This breaks down to 7.6% for men and 4.0% for women deaths that were related to alcohol consumption.

Economic costs to society of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, United States, 1983

Types of Cost Costs ($ millions)
Treatment (for alcohol abuse and alcoholism, liver cirrhosis, motor vehicle crashes, etc) 13,457
Health support services 1,549
Mortality 18,151
Reduced productivity 65,582
Lost employment 5,323
Motor vehicle crashes 2,697
Crime 2,631
Social welfare administration 49
Other 3,673
Victims of crime 194
Incarceration 2,979
Motor vehicle crashes 590
Total 116,875

Alcoholism Statistics
Drinking and Driving Statistics

  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 9,967 deaths were the result of alcohol- impaired driving in 2014.  
  • 64% of all car accidents between midnight and 3am were alcohol related in 2001.
  • Alcohol-related fatalitiesare caused primarily by the consumption of beer (80 percent) followed by liquor/wine at 20 percent.
  • Alcohol related incidents lead to an estimated 88,000 death per year. This breaks down to approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women.
  • Alcohol related deaths are the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Behind tobacco and poor diet and lack of physical activity.
  • The highest intoxication rates in fatal crashes in 2001 were recorded for drivers 21-24 years old (33 percent), followed by ages 25-34 (28 percent) and 35-44 (25 percent).

Global Alcohol Statistics

  • Globally alcohol consumption has increased in recent decades, with all or most of that increase in developing countries.
  • 3.3 million deaths (5.9%) globally were the tied to alcohol consumption. This breaks down to 7.7% for men and 4% for women.
  • The World Health Organization reported that alcohol has led to over 200 diseases and self-injuries among those who drink. Common conditions include Alcohol Use Disorder, cirrhosis of the liver, cancers and other injuries.
  • In 2010, alcohol misuse was the fifth risk factor for premature death and disability globally

Alcohol and College Campuses

  • 54.9% of full time college students (18-22 years old) drank alcohol in the past month according to a survey in 2018.

    • 44.6% of young adults in the same age range of 18-22 years old who are not in college reported drinking in the past month
  • 36.9% of college students (18-22 years old) reported binge drinking in the past month

    • Compared to 27.9% of young adults in the same age range who are not in college
  • 9.6% of college students (18-22 years old) reported heavy alcohol use in the past month

    • Compared to 6.9% of young adults in the same age range who are not in college
  • An estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol related injuries.
  • 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who is under the influence of alcohol
  • 97,000 students reported experiencing alcohol related sexual assault and date rape
  • Approximately 20% of college students meet diagnostic criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder
  • 25% of college students experience academic difficulties as a result of drinking.

Other Alcoholism Statistics:

  • It is estimated that over 3 million teens between the ages of 14 and 17 in the United States today are alcoholics.
  • 62% of high school teenagers report that they have been drunk; 31% say they have had five or more drinks in a row during the last two weeks.
  • Alcoholism prevalence is highest for both sexes in the 18-to-29 age group.
  • A survey of over 450 American alcohol abusers revealed that the vast majority of them did.
  • People who have a good relationship with their spouses have an 8.9% probability of developing alcoholism over the course of their lifetime. Contrarily, 29.2% of adults who are living with a partner and have never married are likely to become alcoholics.
  • One out of every five alcoholics who attempt to stop drinking without medical intervention end up dying as a result of alcoholic withdrawal delirium.
  • People who live with an alcoholic take ten times the amount of sick leave than individuals who are not exposed to alcoholism.
  • A staggering half-a-million US children aged nine to 12 are addicted to alcohol


While reading this can feel daunting, reviewing statistics can help us gain a better understanding of the global impact that alcohol has on individuals. Some individuals grow up with very little exposure to alcohol and may find many of these statistics surprising. If you find yourself wondering if your own drinking is problematic, it may be helpful to read up on the physical effects of abusing alcohol.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Mayo Clinic. Alcohol use disorder.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder. 2020.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge Drinking. 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking Levels Defined.

Return from Alcoholism Statistics to Alcohol Abuse Effects 

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