Understanding Alcoholism in America
Alcohol is one of the top five most abused substances in America, second only to heroin or tobacco on most lists. It’s easy to see why. Alcohol is legal for anyone over 21 to consume, is easy for even teens and adolescents to obtain, and has society’s blessing as the beverage of choice for everything from celebration to sadness. Statistics show its devastating health and social harm, especially when people drink excessively do so on a prolonged basis, and develop alcohol use disorder.
Some 15 million U.S. adults and over 400,000 adolescents are reported to have an alcohol use disorder. The condition can lead to destructive behavior that hurts everyone in the alcoholic’s life, causing everything from financial problems to emotional and physical abuse. It can also significantly increase the chances of developing other serious health problems, even leading to death.
Recognizing Alcohol Use Disorder
You or your loved one may have alcohol use disorder if you exhibit the following symptoms:
- Trouble controlling alcohol consumption
- Continued drinking despite realizing the problems it causes
- Increased tolerance for alcohol, so they have to drink more to get visibly drunk
- Drinking that leads to risky behavior
- The development of withdrawal symptoms
Prevalence of Alcohol Abuse
- About 25.8 percent of people ages 18 and older have reported that they’ve engaged in binge drinking, which is defined as the consumption of several drinks on a single occasion (five drinks for men and four drinks for women).
- A study found about 10.5 percent of U.S. children ages 17 and younger live with a parent with alcohol use disorder.
- More than half of college students ages 18 to 22 told researchers they had drunk alcohol in the previous month, compared to 44 percent of non-college students of the same age.
Adolescent Alcohol Abuse
About 4.2 million people ages 12-20 reported binge drinking in the past month. About 825,000 people in that age reported heavy alcohol use in the past month.
About 39.7 percent of 12-to 20-year-olds reported that they had at least one drink in their lives.
In one study, about 7 million people ages 12-20 reported drinking alcohol in the previous month.
Results of Alcohol Abuse
- Excessive alcohol use is responsible for an average of 95,000 deaths per year; victims lost nearly 2.8 million years of their lives.
- Alcohol abuse has been identified as the top risk factor for premature death and disability among people ages 15-49.
- About 14 percent of deaths among people ages 20-39 have been attributed to alcohol.
- Alcohol is involved in about 18.5 percent of hospital emergency department visits.
- About 22 percent of opioid overdose deaths also involved alcohol.
- Research suggests alcohol may interfere with teens’ normal brain development. Teens who drink are more likely to become dependent because of how alcohol alters their brain chemistry.
- Research has found that people who misuse alcohol are at higher risk of developing liver disease, heart disease, depression, stroke, stomach bleeding, and numerous cancers. They may also have trouble managing non-fatal conditions such as high blood pressure, pain, and sleep disorders.
- For one in three liver transplant cases, alcohol abuse was the primary reason for the liver damage that made the transplant necessary. Previously, hepatitis C was the primary cause.
- Because alcohol reduces or removes inhibitions, excessive drinkers are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual behavior.
Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse
Excessive alcohol consumption has been estimated to cost about $249 billion a year in workplace productivity, health-care expenses, and various expenses from criminal justice activity, motor vehicle crashes, and property damage.
Muse Treatment offers a comprehensive approach to treatment for alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol dependence, call (800) 426-1818 or reach out to our admissions department today.