It is long known that alcohol can pose a significant risk to human health. However, alcohol is consumed worldwide in large amounts, with former Soviet Union republics Lithuania and Belarus reporting the highest alcohol consumption per capita. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 3.3 million deaths are related to harmful use of alcohol worldwide – that is almost six percent of all deaths around the world. Alcohol consumption triggers 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.
In 2015, on average, every person in the United States consumed around 24 gallons of alcohol, over half of which was in the form of beer. Alcohol use in the U.S. was highest among white Americans, as of 2015. Just as there are different alcohol consumption rates for the different ethnicities in the U.S., there are also differing binge drinking rates among the states. The District of Columbia reported the highest binge drinking rates in 2016, whereas Tennessee reported the lowest.
A problem under special observance is alcohol abuse among children, adolescents, and younger people. Within the last decade, there has been a slight decrease in the use of alcohol among persons aged between 12 and 20 years. However, alcohol-related emergency department visits are still often linked with underage drinking. Binge and heavy drinking is relatively common among those alcohol users aged between 16 and 25 years.
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 around 2.2 million alcohol-related treatments in the United States in 2015. Still, only a small portion of people with alcohol use disorders receive help through various types of substance abuse treatment.
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