Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Every year, several million more drink heavily. Not all binge drinkers become alcoholics, but it is a risk factor.

Facts about alcohol abuse

In the past year:

  • 68.6% of men over age 12 drank alcohol
  • 62.9% of women over age 12 drank alcohol
  • 24.9% reported binge drinking
  • 6.5% reported heavy drinking
  • 5.9% met the criteria for a substance use disorder (a.k.a. “alcohol abuse” or alcoholism)

Facts about Alcohol Abuse

  • Every year in the U.S., roughly 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from an alcohol-related incident including car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning and other related injuries.

  • Alcohol is a substance that impairs judgement when consumed and can lead to drinking and driving, unintended sexual activity, violence or other dangerous behaviors.

  • Men are consistently more likely than women to drink in excess and are 2 times more likely to be involved in a fatal alcohol-related car accident. Offer to be the designated driver for your parents and loved ones to ensure that everybody makes it home safe. Sign up for Parents Ride Shotty.

  • 70% of 18-year-olds admit to drinking an alcoholic beverage at least once, while 80% of college-aged students report consuming alcohol.

  • Binge drinking is when a large amount of alcohol is consumed in a short period of time. For men, this is 5 or more drinks within 2 hours, and for women, 4 or more.

  • 18 to 34-year-olds binge drink the most. Binging can lead to unplanned pregnancy, car accidents, spread of sexually transmitted disease, violence or alcohol dependence.

  • 2/3 of the high school-age students who drink do so to the point of intoxication.

  • Approximately 17% of men and 8% of women will be dependent on alcohol in their lifetime.

  • There are roughly 80,000 deaths that are related to alcohol abdiction every year, making it the 3rd highest cause of death in the U.S.

  • Alcohol abuse can lead to long-term health issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer of the throat, liver, or mouth, anxiety and depression, dementia, liver disease and much more.

  • Alcohol poisoning is a short-term consequence of drinking in excess which can cause a loss of consciousness, coma, or death.

Myths about Alcohol

1. It’s OK to get drunk every once in a while.

The truth: Binge drinking is associated with serious health problems. Trusted Source, including unintentional injuries, cancer, and heart disease. It doesn’t matter how infrequently you do it. If you have four or more drinks (women) or five or more drinks (men) in a single sitting, you’re risking your health.

Facts about alcohol addiction

2. Drinking is always safe in moderation.

The truth: Moderate alcohol consumption may have some health benefits. However, that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free. For some people, the risks might outweigh the possible benefits. These include people who:

  • are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • take prescription medications that interact with alcohol
  • plan to drive or operate machinery
  • have heart failure or a weak heart
  • have had a stroke
  • have liver or pancreatic disease
  • have AUD, alcohol dependence, or a family history of either

3. Wine or beer won’t make you as drunk as hard liquor.

The truth: All types of alcohol contain the same active ingredient. All standard drinks contain the same amount of alcohol. A standard drink includes:

  • 12 ounces (oz.) of beer (5 percent alcohol)
  • 8 to 9 oz. of malt beer (7 percent alcohol)
  • 5 oz. of wine (12 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol)

4. Drinking isn’t a problem as long as you can hold your liquor.

The truth: Being able to drink without feeling the effects could be a sign that you’re developing alcohol tolerance. Over time, regular alcohol use can put you at risk for AUD.

5. You can sober up quickly with a cup of coffee.

The truth: Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant which can make you feel more alert and awake. It doesn’t help your body process alcohol faster. If you’ve been drinking, giving your body time to break down the alcohol in your system is the only way to sober up.

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