Alcohol Statistics | Alcohol Facts

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According to the CDC, 64% of Americans drink alcohol, with 50% ‘regular drinkers’.1

The consequences of this are 22,073 alcohol-deaths a year (2006) – these are deaths unrelated to accidents, suicides or homicides. About half of these deaths are from liver disease from alcoholism.1

Preliminary data for 2009 from the CDC shows the highest percentage in a decade measured for adults who have consumed more than 5 drinks a day (23%).1 This may reflect the economic downturn.

Males lead females in consumption, and the highest use occurs in the 18 to 24 year-old group.2

Alcohol abuse is also higher in non-Hispanic Whites (27%) compared to Hispanics (19%) and Blacks (15%).2

Drunk driving statistics

Although alcohol-related traffic fatalities have fallen over the past 40 years, a third of the deaths still involve alcohol. The tragedy of course, is that the death may not be of the alcohol impaired person, but a passenger or another driver.3

Note that the 13,846 deaths (2008) are less than the deaths from non-traffic alcohol use. Alcohol is a poison; it can kill either by way of long-term damage, or acutely. In the acute poisoning, alcohol alone can be fatal, or it can kill when combined with other drugs.3

All States now have mandatory penalties for those driving with a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) greater than 0.08%, but arrests continue.3

It seems that there is no end to the supply of people who willingly drive while intoxicated. There were more than 788,000 arrests in 2007 for driving while impaired.3

One disturbing trend is that the number of women arrested has increased 30% since 1998, although men still account for the majority of arrests (six to one).3

Underage drinking statistics

A 2006 report from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated 5,000 deaths due to alcohol in those under the age of 21. “this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.”4

Of note is the prevalence of binge-style drinking in this population. Binge drinking is the consumption of five or more drinks on a single occasion and on an irregular basis. This may be a reflection of a difficulty in obtaining alcohol.4

The same report cited older data (2002) that showed, among the 1.4 million adolescents who met criteria for alcohol abuse, less than a third actually get any treatment.4 This is significant because alcoholism is at least partly a genetic disorder. Triggering the addiction requires exposure to alcohol. The earlier someone becomes addicted, the more likely it is that they will suffer permanent damage.


  1. CDC alcohol statistics, 2008
  2. CDC alcohol statistics, 2009, preliminary
  3. Drunk Driving Statistics at
  4. NIH report on underage drinking
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