If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction, it’s worrying to think of what the possible consequences might be. But understanding them might provide some motivation toward taking the plunge and going to rehab. These alcohol abuse facts paint an alarming picture of what can happen to people who abuse alcohol.

1. The Alarming Stats About Alcohol Abuse in America

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • 136.7 million Americans aged 12 and older reported that they were currently using alcohol.
  • Of those people, 65.3 million recently engaged in binge drinking (5 or more standard drinks per session for men, and 4 or more for women).
  • 11.9% of alcohol users (around 16.3 million people) reported heavy alcohol use (5 or more episodes of binge drinking in 30 days).
  • 14.6 million people aged 18 and older had an alcohol use disorder.

Not only adults are struggling with alcohol. Two percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17—around 488,000 people—had an AUD in 2016. The good news is, this figure is lower than it’s been at any time since 2002. The bad news is, it’s still too high.

These facts and figures are concerning, but they don’t say much about the full effects of alcohol use disorder. Let’s dig a little deeper into the facts and stats on alcohol.

2. How Much Is Your Drinking Habit Worth?

Americans spend a lot of money on alcohol, but just how much, exactly? And what else do your drinking habits cost you?

Many people, when they sit down and document their expenses, are surprised and shocked to find out how much they spend on alcohol. If you drink a couple of average-quality bottles of wine a week, you’re spending around $1,563 a year. If you have an alcohol use disorder, the cost can skyrocket. Drinking a bottle of wine a day, for instance, means spending about $5,260 a year.

A survey from 2014 that looked at people’s drinking habits found that the top 10% of American adult drinkers were drinking an average of 74 drinks a week. That’s just over 10 drinks a day. In a week, it’s equivalent to 18 bottles of wine, three 24-can cases of beer, or around 3.3 liters of spirits. How much are you drinking—and how much is it costing you?

The amount Americans spend on alcohol is even higher on holiday weekends. During Independence Day weekend, for instance, Americans spend a massive $1.6 billion on beer and wine. Beer sales increase by up to 40%.

Drinking also costs the country as a whole. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cost of excessive alcohol use hit an annual figure of $250 billion in 2010 and shows no signs of dropping.

Most of the cost to your life results from losses in workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, criminal justice expenses, and motor vehicle crashes.

3. From Drunk Shopping to Drunk Driving

The money people spend on alcohol isn’t the only financial cost. Nearly half of adults say they regularly shop while drunk. In 2017, Americans spent an average of $448 each on so-called “drunk shopping” purchases, nearly double the figure from the previous year. What do they buy?

  • 61% say food.
  • 26% buy clothes or shoes.
  • 25% spend money on gambling.

Alcohol consumption can lead to more serious consequences too. Drinking increases during holiday weekends, and so does the motor vehicle fatality rate. It’s no coincidence that July 4th weekend is considered the deadliest weekend of the year. Between 2007 and 2011, 40% of all highway deaths were caused by drunk driving during Independence Day weekend, and July 4th itself is the worst day of the year for fatal car crashes.

4. Alcohol and Your Body

It’s not just car crashes you have to worry about if you have an alcohol abuse disorder. An estimated 88,000 people die every year due to causes related to excessive drinking, making alcohol abuse the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The effects of chronic alcohol abuse on the body are well-documented. It’s linked to:

  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver

Alcohol suppresses your immune system, increasing the risk of diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. People who abuse alcohol or drugs have a higher risk of developing a mental illness such as depression.

A long list of statistics proves the link between alcohol and poor health and disease:

  • Once you take a drink, it takes just six minutes for alcohol to start having an effect on your brain cells. Chronic alcohol use impairs cognition and coordination and can change your mood and behavior.
  • Around 47% of deaths due to liver disease are because of alcohol abuse.
  • Of people who die due to cirrhosis of the liver, 47.9% of deaths are alcohol-related.
  • Alcohol-related liver disease is responsible for up to one-third of liver transplants in the U.S.
  • People who drink three to four drinks—or more—a day have a risk of head and neck cancer two to three times higher than non-drinkers.
  • For every 10 grams of alcohol (around 1 drink) consumed per day, your risk of colorectal cancer increases by 7%.
  • Every 10 grams of alcohol a woman consumes per day raises her risk of breast cancer by 12%.

Don’t Wait Another Day to Get the Help You Need

If there was ever any doubt that excessive alcohol use is dangerous and life-threatening, these statistics should lay that idea to rest. If you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, getting help as soon as possible could be the difference between life and death. Reach out to The Ranch treatment center. We have locations in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and we’re ready to tackle your problems with alcohol together.

Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

Choose a better life. Choose recovery.