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Alcohol use - Statistics & Facts

It is long known that alcohol can pose a significant risk to human health. However, alcohol is consumed worldwide in large amounts, with Seychelles and Uganda reporting the highest alcohol consumption per capita. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 3 million deaths are related to harmful use of alcohol worldwide per year – that is over 5 percent of all deaths worldwide. Alcohol consumption is associated with many diseases, such as several types of cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, and cardiovascular diseases. It should be kept in mind that behind all these facts stands a large and established industry. In addition, governments around the world collect billions of dollars in alcohol tax revenues.

Current alcohol use in the United States is highest among those aged between 21 and 29 years, with binge use and heavy use most common among those aged 21 and 25. Binge drinking is the most harmful pattern of alcohol use and carries serious health risks. Binge drinking is commonly defined as five or more drinks in a two hour period for men and four or more drinks in a two hour period for women. As of 2018, the states with the highest binge drinking rates included Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota.

Alcohol use among younger people can be particularly troublesome, but rates of alcohol use among youth in the U.S. have steadily decreased over the last few decades. In 2019, the lifetime prevalence of alcohol use among those in grades 8, 10 and 12 stood at 41.5 percent, a significant decrease from a prevalence rate of 80 percent in 1991. Given the reputation of colleges concerning partying and alcohol use it is no surprise that rates of binge drinking are higher among those aged 18 to 22 years who are enrolled in college than those who are not enrolled. However, following a similar trend as seen among high school students, binge drinking rates among those aged 18 to 22 years have dropped over recent years for both those enrolled in college and those who are not.

Annual costs related to alcohol consumption are estimated to amount to around 249 billion U.S. dollars. This amount includes health care, lost work productivity, and crime. Some 27 billion U.S. dollars are spent per year on alcohol-related health care issues alone. There were almost 2.5 million alcohol-related treatments in the United States in 2019. Still, only a small portion of people with alcohol use disorders receive help through various types of substance abuse treatment.


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