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How Common Is Alcoholism? (The Statistics)


woman sitting alone at a bar with a glass of dark liquor

Alcoholism is extremely common in the United States. The statistics show that 14.5 million people aged 12 and up suffered from an alcohol use disorder in 2019. However, even with such prevalence in our society, it’s easy to underestimate its impact on our country.

Alcohol Use in the United States: The Statistics

Alcohol use is relatively common, and while not everyone who drinks alcohol develops an alcohol use disorder, there are still many alcohol-related problems.

Underage Drinking

Almost 40 percent of people ages 12 to 20 report having at least one drink in their lives, with 18.5 percent of this age group having consumed alcohol in the last month. Approximately 2 percent of this group also reports heavy drinking in the past month. Underage drinking is a risk factor for developing an alcohol use disorder, as well.

Alcohol-Related Emergencies and Deaths

From 2006 to 2014, alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits increased by 47 percent, translating to an average of 210,000 more alcohol-related ED visits per year. Alcohol is a contributing factor in 18.5 percent of ED visits and 22.1 percent of overdose deaths from prescription opioids.

Alcohol can lead to death from chronic diseases such as alcohol-related liver disease, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and liver diseases.

Alcohol is also a significant cause of traffic fatalities in the United States, with over 10,000 fatalities in 2019. An alcohol-related traffic fatality is defined as a fatality following a crash involving a driver or operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher.

Alcohol Use Disorder

With how Americans view alcohol, it’s unsurprising that so many people suffer from an alcohol use disorder. However, most don’t realize just how many people are alcoholics. More than 6 percent of adults in the United States have an alcohol use disorder. That equals to about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 25 women affected.

Additionally, 623,000 people ages 12 to 17 have alcohol use disorders. Alcohol-related deaths are the third-leading cause of preventable deaths in the US, leading to 88,000 deaths yearly. However, despite this prevalence, only about 7.3 percent of people with a past year AUD receive treatment.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, is the continuation of drinking even after negative effects on one’s life.

Alcoholism is characterized by alcohol dependence. Sufferers may experience difficulties controlling their drinking behavior, including the onset, termination, and level of drinking. They may need increased amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effect as when they first started drinking, as well. 

People suffering from AUD often ignore other enjoyable activities to spend more time drinking and continue drinking when there are readily apparent negative consequences like liver damage or impaired cognitive functioning. It also leads to significant strain on both personal and professional relationships for a large percentage of alcoholics in the United States.

There are several identified risk factors for alcoholism in the United States as well as the rest of the world. One of the largest risk factors is a co-occurring mental health disorder, especially one that is untreated or poorly managed. 

Other risk factors for AUD include:

  • Trauma
  • Unresolved grief or guilt
  • Age of first drink
  • Social and economical status
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic pain

How Is AUD Treated?

The first step in treating an alcohol use disorder (AUD) is safe detox from alcohol. Once someone has been successfully detoxed, the body and brain can start to heal. This is often accomplished with a combination of controlled medication treatments and behavioral therapy to provide a holistic approach to recovery.

Treatment for alcohol use disorders also includes addressing risk factors and providing alternative ways to cope with stressors. Evaluation for and treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders is an essential part of recovery and preventing future relapses, as well.

Is Long-Term Sobriety Achievable?

Long-term sobriety is achievable for those willing to put in the effort to maintain it. Alcohol use disorder can be treated and managed, but it is a chronic, lifelong disease with no cure. Initial treatment is needed to get sober and reduce the long-term impacts of chronic alcohol use. Afterward, healthy coping mechanisms, mindfulness, and avoidance of triggers are necessary to maintain sobriety.

Despite best efforts, relapses are surprisingly common. This doesn’t mean that a person’s recovery was unsuccessful or that they can’t attain long-term sobriety. Rather than viewing relapse as a failure, approaching it as a setback and a sign that something isn’t working can point them in a different direction. This may even help prevent future relapses.

Get Help for Addiction Today

Treatment centers like Agape Treatment Center are created to help people with alcohol use disorders, and other substance use disorders. Their goal is to help them get the help they need to achieve sobriety and get their life back on track.

They offer a variety of programs to fit every situation and provide an individualized plan to fit your unique circumstances. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey, reach out to a specialist today

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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