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Alcohol
 

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the United States:

  • Adults (ages 18+): According to the 2015 NSDUH, 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older(6.2 percent of this age group4) had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men3 (8.4 percent of men in this age group4) and 5.3 million women3 (4.2 percent of women in this age group4).
    • About 6.7 percent of adults who had AUD in the past year received treatment. This includes 7.4 percent of males and 5.4 percent of females with AUD in this age group.5
 
  • Youth (ages 12–17): According to the 2015 NSDUH, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–176 (2.5 percent of this age group7) had AUD. This number includes 298,000 males6 (2.3 percent of males in this age group7) and 325,000 females6 (2.7 percent of females in this age group7).
 

Alcohol-Related Deaths:

  • An estimated 88,0008 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women8) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.
  • In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).10

Economic Burden:

  • In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the United States $249.0 billion.11
  • Three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol misuse is related to binge drinking.11

Alcohol and the Human Body:

  • In 2015, of the 78,529 liver disease deaths among individuals ages 12 and older, 47.0 percent involved alcohol. Among males, 49,695 liver disease deaths occurred and 49.5 percent involved alcohol. Among females, 28,834 liver disease deaths occurred and 43.5 percent involved alcohol.29
  • Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2013, 47.9 percent were alcohol related. The proportion of alcohol-related cirrhosis was highest (76.5 percent) among deaths of persons ages 25–34, followed by deaths of persons ages 35–44, at 70.0 percent.30
  • In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United States.31
  • Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast.32
  • Consequences of Underage Alcohol Use:
    • Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing AUD. In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths—including those from car crashes.20
     
     
    2015 College Student Consequences:
    • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.22
    • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.23
    • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.23
    • Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for AUD.24
    • About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.25

    Alcohol and Pregnancy:

    • The prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) in the United States was estimated by the Institute of Medicine in 1996 to be between 0.5 and 3.0 cases per 1,000.26
    • More recent reports from specific U.S. sites report the prevalence of FAS to be 2 to 7 cases per 1,000, and the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) to be as high as 20 to 50 cases per 1,000.27,28

    Alcohol and the Human Body:

    • In 2015, of the 78,529 liver disease deaths among individuals ages 12 and older, 47.0 percent involved alcohol. Among males, 49,695 liver disease deaths occurred and 49.5 percent involved alcohol. Among females, 28,834 liver disease deaths occurred and 43.5 percent involved alcohol.29
    • Among all cirrhosis deaths in 2013, 47.9 percent were alcohol related. The proportion of alcohol-related cirrhosis was highest (76.5 percent) among deaths of persons ages 25–34, followed by deaths of persons ages 35–44, at 70.0 percent.30
    • In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the United States.31
    • Drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast.32

    Definitions

    Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. AUD can range from mild to severe, and recovery is possible regardless of severity.  The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM–IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, described two distinct disorders—alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence—with specific criteria for each. The fifth edition, DSM–5, integrates the two DSM–IV disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, into a single disorder called alcohol use disorder, or AUD, with mild, moderate, and severe subclassifications.

    Binge Drinking:

    • NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.36
    • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month.37

    Heavy Alcohol Use: SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.

    NIAAA’s Definition of Drinking at Low Risk for Developing AUD: For women, low-risk drinking is defined as no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, it is defined as no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. NIAAA research shows that only about 2 in 100 people who drink within these limits have AUD.

    Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Fatality: A fatality in a crash involving a driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a BAC of 0.08 g/dL or greater.

    Disability-Adjusted Life-Years (DALYs): A measure of years of life lost or lived in less than full health.

    Underage Drinking: Alcohol use by anyone under the age of 21. In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. 

     

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