Alcoholism: Beyond the Basic Statistics | The Ranch

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Alcoholism: Beyond the Basic Statistics

September 21, 2017
woman holding a glass with alcohol

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Of these, about 1.3 million or 8.3% received treatment for an AUD at a specialized facility. The same survey showed an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had an AUD and only 6% or 37,000 received treatment in a specialized facility. Moreover, an alarming 26% of people ages 18 and older engaged in binge drinking and heavy alcohol use, which can also have dangerous consequences. Indeed, alcohol statistics paint a bleak picture, but excessive drinking and alcohol addiction involve more than numbers.1 The following 10 intriguing facts put alcohol in an entirely new perspective.

  1. Fourth of July spending on alcohol rivals celebrating mom on Mother’s Day!

    table with independence day decorations
    Every year, Americans spend $1.6 billion on alcoholic beverages during the Independence Day weekend.2 According to the National Retail Federation, that’s the same amount that was spent on spa, salon and massage gift-cards to celebrate Mother’s Day in 2017.3

  2. Every year, more people lose their lives to alcohol than any types of cancer except lung.

    Alcohol addicted man sitting alone with alcohol bottle
    An estimated 88,000 people lose their lives to alcohol-related causes every year, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.1 In 2017, an estimated 26,730, 40,610 and 50,260 people are expected to lose their lives to prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer, respectively. On a state level, an estimated 14,800 Tennesseans will lose their lives to all types of cancer in 2017.4

  3. Tennessee DUIs equal the number of Nashville residents who love Florida beaches!

    Man sitting in bar with car key and glass of alcoholic beverage, closeup.
    DUI statistics indicate an estimated 72,437 documented alcohol-related crashes occurred in Tennessee in the 10-year period between 2007 and 2017.5 That’s approximately the same number of people from Nashville and environs who travel down to Florida’s panhandle beaches every year.6

  4. It only takes six minutes for alcohol to impact brain cells and lawyers to defend Bill Cosby.

    Bill Cosby
    Data shows it only takes 6 minutes for brain cells to react to alcohol.7 That’s the same duration Bill Cosby’s defense team spent defending the famous comedian in June 2017 against those infamous sexual assault charges.8

  5. Alcohol kills far more people than lightning in any time period.

    Alcohol kills one person every 10 seconds worldwide.7 Lightning strikes kill about 24,000 people worldwide each year, which equates to one person killed every 1,314 seconds.8

  6. Risky drinking among soldiers has been documented for more than 2,330 years.

    line of soldiers
    Nearly 50% of active duty service members reported binge drinking in 2008, a considerable increase from 1998. In 2008, 20% of military personnel reported binge drinking every week in the past month. The rate increased to 27% in those exposed to high combat.9 Alexander the Great held a drinking contest among his soldiers and when it was over, 42 people were dead from alcohol poisoning.7

  7. Comets and wine have something in common.

    wine bottles
    During its peak activity, the comet Lovejoy released as much alcohol every second as the amount found in 500 bottles of wine.7

  8. Excessive drinking cost the U.S. nearly 14 times more than people spend on Valentine’s Day.

    a couple on valentine's day
    In 2010, excessive alcohol use cost the U.S economy 249 billion.10 As a comparison, Americans spent $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2017. Jewelry and an evening out comprised the biggest spending, but alcohol was not tabulated separately in the National Retail Federation survey.11

  9. There are as many alcoholics in the U.S. as lefties.

    left-handed person holding pencil
    A 2015 study showed 32 million Americans struggled with a serious alcohol problem in the last year12, which coincidentally is the same number of people in the U.S. who are left-handed. While some research has pointed to an increased risk of alcoholism in lefties, this data has been debunked. There is no evidence handedness predicts risky drinking, but it’s true lefties drink more.13

  10. More than 25% of high school athletes drink alcohol by senior year.

    teens drinking
    The number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7.8 million in 2015-16. Despite recent declines, 61% of high school students have consumed more than a few sips of alcohol by the time they graduate. That means 2.1 million high school students in the graduating class of 2016-17 consumed alcohol at some point, which equates to 27% of high school athletes.14,15,16


  1. Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Updated February 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  2. You Won’t Believe How Much Money is Spent on Mother’s Day Cards Each Year. 106.9 KROC website Published May 10, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  3. Cancer Facts & Figures 2017. American Cancer Society website. Published 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  4. Tennessee — Known-Alcohol Related Traffic Crashes 2007 – 2017. Tennessee State Government website. Published June 30, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  5. Florida’s 30A—AKA Nashville’s Beach. Nashville Lifestyles website. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  6. Alcohol Facts: 53 Facts about Alcohol. Fact Slides website. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  7. Bill Cosby’s legal defense lasted 6 minutes. Here’s why. Vox website. Published June 13, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  8. Lightning Deaths and Injuries, by the Numbers. Outside Online website. Published January 4, 2013. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  9. Substance Abuse in the Military. National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Revised March 2013. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  10. NRF Says Consumers Will Spend $18.2 Billion on Valentine’s Day. National Retail Federation website. Published February 1, 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  11. Main D. 30 Percent of Americans Have Had an Alcohol-Use Disorder. Newsweek. June 3, 2015. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  12. Kerns K. What Being Left-Handed Says About Your Personality. Huffington Post. August 24, 2015. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  13. Fast Facts. National Center for Education Statistics website. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  14. Monitoring the Future 2016 Survey Results. Monitoring the Future website. Published January 2017. Accessed August 3, 2017.
  15. High School Sports Participation Increases for 27th Consecutive Year. National Federation of State High School Associations website. Published September 12, 2016. Accessed August 3, 2017.

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