51 United States Alcohol and Alcoholism Statistics (2022)

Alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder is widely studied and recorded in the United States. This article looks at the broad picture of alcoholism in the country. In other posts, we drill down on specific elements of the issue in relation to various groups and other areas of alcoholism and recovery.

Man sitting at a bar adrinking whiskey, his fingers laced

Some of the facts here are disturbing. A few are hopeful. Together, they provide a solid overview of alcohol in the USA and its effects on society as well as the economy.

#1. 85.6% of people have had a drink at some time in their lives. (NIAAA)

#2. In 2016, 30,859 people died from alcohol-related cancers. More than 70% were male. (WHO)

#3. California has the highest number of alcohol-related deaths of any state, followed by Texas and Florida. Vermont has the fewest. (NCDAS)

#4. Over 80% of all these deaths are in the 35+ age group, and more than half are from chronic alcohol-related causes. (NCDAS)

#5. On average, each American aged 15 and over consumes the equivalent of 13.7 liters of pure alcohol each year. Men consume, on average, 19.0 liters and women 6.7. (WHO)

#6. 91% of substance abuse treatment facilities offer treatment for alcohol abuse disorders. (N-SSATS)

#7. Fetal alcohol syndrome caused by pregnant women drinking was estimated to be between 0.5 and 3 cases per thousand births. Drinking is also believed to be a cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. (NIAAA)

#8. New Mexico has 7.1 alcohol-related deaths per 10,000 adults. This is followed by Alaska with 5.4 and Wyoming with 5.3. On the other end, the figure is 2.9 for New Jersey, followed by Utah and Virginia with 3.0 (NCDAS)

#9. The COVID-19 pandemic saw huge increases in alcohol sales, and 30.1% of people cited boredom as a reason for increased drinking. (NCDAS)

#10. With rates of alcohol/alcoholism use disorder of 13.9%, the USA ranks joint 5th highest in the world for prevalence. It has the highest prevalence for women in the world at 10.4%. It comes in 12th for males at 17.6%. (WPR)

#11. It is estimated that in 2010, the country lost $249 billion due to excessive alcohol consumption. 77% of the figure was due to binge drinking. The national average was a cost of $807 per capita. (CDC)

#12. The NIAAA now has a new category referred to as “High-Intensity Drinking,” which is defined as drinking at least twice the “gender-specific binge drinking thresholds.” This peeks at 21, and such heavy alcohol use is more likely to result in some significant problems such as assault. (NCDAS)

#13. Suicides accounted for 22.5% of alcohol-related deaths. By comparison, motor vehicle accidents accounted for 16.1% of drink-related fatalities. (NCDAS)

#14. Health problems that alcohol causes remain after someone has stopped drinking. This makes the causality of alcohol as a factor difficult to measure. Examples are heart disease and liver cirrhosis. (NIAAA)

#15. The number of clients being treated for alcohol abuse declined from 221,632 in 3011 to 146,710 in 2020. (N-SSATS)

#16. Heavy alcohol use is most prevalent in the 18-25 age group, followed by those 26 or older. The range 12 -17 had the lowest incidence. (NSDUH)

#18. In 2018, the percentage of 12 to 20-year-olds that were binge drinkers measured came in at 11%, down 2% from 2015. (SAMHSA)

#19. In 2020, 4.1 million people aged 12 and above drank for the first time, excluding sips from other drinks. Most of these were aged between 18 and 25. (SAMHSA)

#20. Adults with a mental health disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, were more likely to have a substance abuse disorder than those without. Binge drinking in those with serious mental illness ran at 30.9%, and for those with any mental illness, the figure was 28.5%. (NSDUH)

#21. 292, 000 people received medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use, which is about 1% of all people with an alcohol abuse disorder. (NSDUH)

#22. Typically, 6 people a day die in the United States from alcohol poisoning. Just over three-quarters are men, and the majority (76%) are between 35 and 64. Alcohol dependence was a factor in 30% of these. The total number of deaths from this cause is 2,200 every year. (CDC)

#23. Almost 14 million women in the US binge drink each month, drinking on average 6 drinks per binge, with 1 in 5 high schools girls doing so. This results in around 23,000 deaths in females annually. (CDC)

#24. More than 95,000 deaths are caused annually in the United States by excessive drinking. The lives cut short by this are reduced by 29 years on average. More than half of these deaths are from long-term effects such as heart disease. The remainder is from premature death resulting from suicide and accidental injury such as drowning. It also includes the death of 148 children between the ages of zero and twelve from child maltreatment. (CDC)

#25. Females in the age group 12-17 are 6.5% more likely to have alcohol abuse disorder than males in the same age range. (NCDAS)

#26. More than 12% of under 17-year-old children live in a household where at least one parent engages in excessive alcohol use. 18.7% of these are single-parent households. 9.3% of single dads are alcoholics, and the figure for single mothers is 6.3%. (NCDAS)

#27. People who drink alcohol are equivalent to twice the gender-specific binge drinking definitions are 70 times more likely to need emergency room visits. If they drink at three times the binge-defining level, the likelihood of needing to visit an ER increases to 93 times more than the non-binge drinker. (NIAAA)

#28. Only 1 in 6 or fewer than 6.5 million of the 38 million US adults who drink too much alcohol have discussed the problem with a health professional. Only 17% of pregnant women discuss their drinking. (CDC)

#29. The human body’s immune system may be weakened for as long as 24 hours after becoming drunk. This leads to increased chances of getting diseases ranging from the common cold to pneumonia. (NIAAA)

#30. While the number of binge drinkers went down between 2011 and 2017, the amount which was drunk increased significantly. This was most prevalent in people with less than a high school diploma and those whose household income was under $25,000 per year. (CDC)

#31. There is a correlation between reduced binge drinking and more restrictive state laws. These states, therefore, experience better behavioral health statistics such as alcohol-related unintentional injuries and avoidable health conditions. (CDC)

#32. The link between heavy drinking and high-risk behavior can lead to high-risk sexual behavior and a concomitant increase in the chance of HIV or other STD. (CDC)

#33. About 90% of heavy drinkers are unlikely to meet the criteria for the diagnosis of a severe alcohol use disorder. (CDC)

#34. 14.4 deaths per 100,000 in the western United States are attributable to alcohol-related causes. By contrast, the figure in the northeast is almost half at 7.7 per 100,000. (WBT)

#35. According to a 2021 report, in the past year, 28.3 million had a diagnosable alcohol use disorder based on symptoms given in the DSM-V. This represents 10.2% of the American population. AUD was highest in young adults (18-25) at 15.6%. 2.8% of the 12-17 group qualify for this diagnosis. (SAMHSA)

#36. A 1997 survey found that alcoholics are significantly more likely to have an anxiety disorder. Another study showed that people who had an alcohol dependence problem, even if recovered, were more than four times as likely to experience a major depressive episode. (NIAAA)

#37. Someone with post-traumatic stress disorder is 2.2 times more likely than a person without this condition to have alcohol dependence. (NIAAA)

#38. The following breaks down the percentage of alcoholism by race:

  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 14.9%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 11.3%
  • Hispanic: 8.6%
  • Caucasian: 8.4%
  • African American: 7.4%
  • Asian: 4.6% (NSDUH)

#39. Amongst risk factors for the disabled community developing alcohol use problems are unemployment/low income, chronic pain as well as other chronic physical issues, mental health issues, less access to education, social marginalization, physical and sexual abuse, as well as caregivers who engage in enabling behaviors. (SAMHSA)

#40. Professions with the highest level of drinking problems are:

  • Lawyers. Up to one in five binges and drinks heavily.
  • Mining: 17.5%. Figures indicate that this group consumes the highest amount of alcohol.
  • Construction. 16.5%
  • Doctors: 15. 3%. This includes 15% of surgeons.
  • People in the arts and entertainment: 11.5%
  • Managers: 9% (CDC)

#41. Binge drinking is most prevalent in Wisconsin (25.8%) followed by Iowa (24.5%) and North Dakota (22.7%). West Virginians have, on average, 6.4 drinks when they binge. North Dakota is next with 5.9, followed by Idaho with 5.8. (CDC)

#42. The annual cost of drinking costs California over 35 billion dollars annually, followed by Texas at almost nineteen billion and Florida where it costs the economy 15.3 billion dollars each year. The total cost to the economy is $ 2.05 per drink. (CDC)

#43. One-quarter of adult binge drinkers consume eight or more drinks when engaging in a binge. In total adult binge drinkers consume seventeen billion drinks a year which is an average of 467 drinks each. 44% of underage drinkers will drink eight or more drinks when in a binging session. (CDC)

#44. Binge drinking is defined for a woman as 4 or more drinks at any time and 5 for men. Heavy drinking is considered to be 15 or more drinks a week for men and 8 for women. Women process alcohol differently than men which is why the figure is so much lower for them. Moderate drinking, by contrast, is 2 or less a day for males and 1 for females. (CDC)

#45. Long-term health risk of heart problems and multiple cancers. Including mouth, liver, breast, and rectal cancers. Alcohol increases the chances of dementia as well as learning and memory problems. (CDC)

#46. From 2002 to 2019, the number of underage drinkers who drank in the past 30 days declined by 41.1% for 16-17-year-olds, 54.7% for 14- 15-year-olds, and 61.9% for 12 and 13-year-olds (NIAAA)

#47. Full-time college students are more likely to binge drink, with 33.0% of those from 18-22 binge drinking in comparison with 27.7% of others in the same age range. ( NIAAA)

#48. 43.1% of deaths from liver disease involved alcohol and 49.5% of liver cirrhosis deaths were related to alcohol. The proportion of alcohol-related liver cirrhosis deaths was 76.8% for people aged 25-34. 1 in 3 liver transplants is related to alcohol. (NIAAA)

#49. Alcohol is the third-highest preventable cause of death. It is superseded by tobacco in the first place and poor diet and lack of physical activity in the second. (NIAAA)

#50. In 2019, alcohol accounted for 10,142 driving fatalities, which was 28% of the total figure. (NIAAA)

#51. One gram of alcohol contains 7.1 kcal, and unless this is offset in some way, such as exercise can lead to obesity. Studies show a correlation between increases in drinking and body mass index BMI. Because alcohol induces a feeling of relaxation, the likelihood of exercise is reduced. It has also been found that drinking after exercise decreases the hormone necessary to efficiently heal muscles following a workout. (NIH)


CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

N-SSATS – National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services

NCDAS – National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics

NIAAA – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

NIH – National Institute of Health.

NSDUH -National Survey on Drug Use and Health

SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

WBT – Wellbeing Trust

WHO – World Health Organization

WPR – World Population Review