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Alcohol Awareness Month: Troubling statistics and helpful resources

Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which makes it as good a time as any to take a sobering look (pun definitely intended) at the problems associated with booze and what can be done about them.

It’s important to point out, as the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse does [1], that “most adults in the United States who drink alcohol drink moderately and without complications.” Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic or risks becoming one, so it’s important not to paint the substance with a broad brush.

But, as the NIAAA adds, “at the same time, alcohol-related problems are among the most significant public health issues in the country.”

So what is Alcoholism Awareness Month? It was launched by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in 1987 as a way to make college-age students and teens aware of the unintended consequences of alcohol consumption. In the years since, it’s become a national observance that calls attention to the broader causes and effects of alcoholism in general, as well as a way to promote solutions for families and communities who deal with the problem.

And regardless of the large number of individuals who responsibly enjoy alcohol, it is most definitely a problem. How much so? Consider the following statistics.

Alcohol Awareness Month: Drinking Patterns

  • Alcohol Awareness MonthIn 2018, 26.45 percent of people ages 18 or older – roughly 55 million Americans – reported binge drinking in the previous month. In addition, 6.6 percent – or 13.8 million people in that age group – reported heavy alcohol use in the previous month. [2]
  • According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 4.3 million young people ages 12-20 – or 11.4 percent of that population – reported binge drinking in the previous month. At the same time, 861,000 people – roughly 2.3 percent of all young people ages 12-20 – reported heavy alcohol use in the previous month. [3]
  • Alcohol consumption by college students over the previous month was higher than that of other persons the same age [4]: 54.9 percent of full-time college students ages 18-22 reported drinking in the past month (compared to 44.6 percent of others the same age); 36.9 percent reported binge drinking (compared to 27.9 percent); and 9.6 percent reported “heavy alcohol use” (compared to 6.9 percent).
  • The 2018 NSDUH revealed that 14.4 million adults ages 18 and older – or 5.8 percent of that population – had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), the medical and scientific diagnosis for alcoholism. In addition, an estimated 401,000 young people, ages 12 to 17 (or 1.6 percent of that population), qualified for a diagnosis of AUD. [5]

The Health Effects of Problem Drinking

  • Every year, alcohol-related causes claim an estimated 88,000 lives – 62,000 men and 26,000 women, making it the “third leading preventable cause of death in the United States” behind tobacco and poor diet/physical inactivity. [6]
  • In 2012, 3.3 million deaths – or 5.9 percent of all global deathswere linked to alcohol consumption, and 5.1 percent of “the burden of disease and injury worldwide … was attributable to alcohol consumption.” [7]
  • Worldwide in 2010, alcohol misuse was considered the leading risk factor for “premature death and disability” among people between the ages of 15 and 49. [7]
  • In 2014, alcohol was a factor in 31 percent of overall driving fatalities in the United States. [8]
  • In 2018, of the 83,517 liver disease deaths among Americans ages 12 and older, 47.8 percent of them involved alcohol. [9]
  • Every year, an estimated 1,825 college students “between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes,” according to a 2009 study. [10]
  • A 2005 study showed that an estimated 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted annually by “another student who has been drinking,” and “97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.” [11]

Alcohol Awareness Month: Economic and Societal Consequences

  • In 2010, it was estimated that alcohol misuse cost the United States $249 billion in lost productivity and costs to the health care, legal and judicial systems. Three-quarters of that cost was related to binge drinking. [12]
  • An estimated 15 percent of the U.S. workforce consumes enough alcohol to lead to workplace impairment. [13]
  • A 2012 study revealed that “more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems.” [14]
  • Of those 14.4 million adults with an AUD? Only 7.9 percent of them received alcoholism treatment in the previous year. And only 5 percent of the 401,000 young people with an AUD received treatment. [15]

Alcohol and Alcoholism Resources

Shining a spotlight on the problems posed by alcohol is well and good, but Alcohol Awareness Month wouldn’t be beneficial without some solutions. Fortunately, Cornerstone of Recovery has been in the solutions business for more than three decades. We were founded in 1989 by a recovering alcoholic who believed that sobriety was available to anyone. We’ve taken the time-honored traditional methods of 12 Step recovery that were integral to Cornerstone’s foundation, and we’ve grown to include in our treatment process an arsenal of therapeutic modalities that address the needs of patients, their families and the community at large.

In addition, our recovery blog is a clearinghouse of information on a number of alcohol-related topics, including:

Alcohol Awareness Month: Family and Community Resources

Sobriety Resources

Alcohol Concerns During COVID-19

Hopefully, these resources can help you determine whether you, or someone you love, may have a drinking problem … and if so, we at Cornerstone of Recovery remain committed to helping those individuals stop drinking, lose the desire to do so and find a new way to live. In a sense, every month at Cornerstone of Recovery is Alcohol Awareness Month, because for the past three decades, we’ve made it our mission to draw attention to the disease of alcoholism, and to provide a place of hope, healing and recovery for those who want to get better.


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