Addiction Alcohol Use Prevalence of Alcoholism in the United States By Buddy T Buddy T Facebook Twitter Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 28, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Fact checked Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Andrea Rice Fact checked by Andrea Rice Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact-checker specializing in health and wellness. Learn about our editorial process Print krisanapong detraphiphat / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Alcohol Use Statistics Heavy Drinking Alcohol Use Disorder Health Risks It is not possible to determine the number of alcoholics in the United States because there is no official diagnosis of "alcoholism." Since the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013, drinking problems have been diagnosed as alcohol use disorders, ranging in level from mild to moderate to severe. Before that, the DSM-IV (published in 1994) broke alcohol-related disorders into two categories: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. So, how many Americans have an alcohol use disorder? Statistics about the prevalence of alcohol use, alcohol use disorders, underage drinking, alcohol-related conditions, and fatalities can be gleaned from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) as well as other sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here's a look at some of the latest figures. Facts on Alcohol Use Disorder Alcohol Use Statistics Among people 18 years or older, an estimated 86.3% reported they had consumed alcohol at some point during their lives; 70% said they had a drink within the past 12 months, and 55.3% said they drank alcohol within the past 30 days. While some research has found that drinking in moderation seems to benefit the heart and cardiovascular system, heavy drinking and binge drinking comes with a host of short- and long-term health effects. Types of Drinking Defined According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the types of drinking are defined as:Moderate drinking: Up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for menBinge drinking: Five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 daysHeavy drinking: Five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days in the past 30 days Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Drinking Approximately 26.45% of all adults in the U.S. reported engaging in binge drinking in the past 30 days and 6.6% confirmed heavy drinking in the past month. A 2015 study of adult drinkers in the U.S. found that binge drinking was most common among non-Hispanic whites with some college education and with an annual family income of $75,000 or more. What Is Binge Drinking? Men The prevalence of heavy drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol use disorders are highest among men aged 18 to 24 and men who are unemployed. Around 58% of adult men report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days. Men are also twice as likely as women to binge drink—and roughly 23% report binge drinking five times a month, according to the CDC. Men are also more likely than women to be heavy drinkers. Women According to the CDC, roughly 46% of adult women report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days and roughly 12% of adult women report binge drinking three times per month. College Students Among U.S. college students, 54.9% of full-time students ages 18 to 22 reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, compared to 44.6% of others the same age. An estimated 36.9% of college students reported binge drinking in the past month and 9.6% disclosed heavy drinking. All of these percentages are significantly higher for the same age group among non-college students. Underage Drinking According to the CDC, the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 30% of high schoolers reported drinking some amount of alcohol and 14% engaged in binge drinking. Among those aged 12 to 20, the 2018 NSDUH reported that 19% drank in the previous 30 days with 12% binge drinking. Underage Drinking Risk Factors and Consequences Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorders The NSDUH data estimated that 5.8% of American adults over 18—about 14.4 million people—have an alcohol use disorder. This includes 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women, or 7.6% of all adult men and 4.1% of all adult women. Of those with alcohol use disorder, only 7.9% of adults aged 18 and over received professional treatment for in the past year from a facility specializing in alcohol treatment and rehabilitation. Breaking it down further, only 8% of men and 7.7% of women who needed help for an alcohol problem actually sought help for that problem. Among youth ages 12 to 17, an estimated 401,000 had alcohol use disorders, including 227,000 females and 173,000 males. Among U.S. adolescents, 1.6% had already developed an alcohol use disorder. During the previous 12 months, only 5% of those with a drinking problem received treatment. Alcohol use disorders were most common among American Indians or Alaskan Natives, those having less than a high school education, and those with an annual family income of less than $25,000. Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder According to the DSM-5, if the following symptoms are present within the past year they may indicate an alcohol use disorder:You often drink alcohol in larger amounts or over a longer period than you intend.You want to cut down or control your alcohol use but your efforts may be unsuccessful.You spend a lot of time getting alcohol, using it, and recovering from the effects of your drinking.You have alcohol cravings.Your use of alcohol results in failing to meet your obligations at work, school, or home.You continue to use alcohol despite it leading to recurrent problems socially or in your relationships.You give up or reduce your participation in important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of your use of alcohol.You use alcohol in situations in which it is physically hazardous (such as driving, operating machinery, performing surgery).You continue to use alcohol even knowing that you have a physical or psychological problem that is caused by or made worse by alcohol.You experience alcohol tolerance, either by needing more alcohol to get intoxicated or you feel diminished effects when drinking the same amount of alcohol.You experience withdrawal syndrome or you use alcohol or other substances to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Health Risks of Excessive Alcohol Use Each year, an estimated 88,000 people—62,000 men and 26,000 women—die from alcohol-related causes. This makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Heavy drinking and binge drinking can result in a number of short-term and long-term health risks, including: Cancer, including increased risk of breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancersInjuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, burns, and alcohol poisoningLearning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performanceMental health problems, such as anxiety and depressionPhysical health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive issuesPregnancy-related issues, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal alcohol spectrum disordersRisky sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex and sex with multiple partnersSocial problems, such as lost productivity, family problems, relationship issues, and unemploymentViolence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. 18 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM–IV and DSM–5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Facts and Statistics. Chiva-Blanch G, Badimon L. Benefits and Risks of Moderate Alcohol Consumption on Cardiovascular Disease: Current Findings and Controversies. Nutrients. 2019;12(1):108. doi:10.3390/nu12010108 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking Levels Defined. Kanny D, Naimi TS, Liu Y, Lu H, Brewer RD. Annual Total Binge Drinks Consumed by U.S. Adults, 2015. Am J Prev Med. 2018;54(4):486-496. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2017.12.021 Esser MB, Hedden SL, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Gfroerer JC, Naimi TS. Prevalence of Alcohol Dependence Among US Adult Drinkers, 2009-2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E206. doi:10.5888/pcd11.140329 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Men's Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive Alcohol Use and Risks to Women's Health. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. YRBSS Data & Documentation. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). 2013. Testino G. The Burden of Cancer Attributable to Alcohol Consumption. Maedica (Buchar). 2011;6(4):313-320. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol Use and Your Health. Shield KD, Parry C, Rehm J. Chronic Diseases and Conditions Related to Alcohol Use. Alcohol Res. 2013;35(2):155-173. Bailey BA, Sokol RJ. Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Preterm Delivery, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Alcohol Res Health. 2011;34(1):86-91. Agius P, Taft A, Hemphill S, Toumbourou J, Mcmorris B. Excessive alcohol use and its association with risky sexual behaviour: a cross-sectional analysis of data from Victorian secondary school students. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2013;37(1):76-82. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.12014 French MT, Maclean JC, Sindelar JL, Fang H. The morning after: alcohol misuse and employment problems. Appl Econ. 2011;43(21):2705-2720. Graham K, Livingston M. The relationship between alcohol and violence: Population, contextual and individual research approaches. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2011;30(5):453-457. doi:10.1111/j.1465-3362.2011.00340.x By Buddy T Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Get Treatment for Addiction Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.