History tells you and it holds true even today, that alcohol continues to be a popular form of social engagement and a bond between like-minded people.

It helps you pass time in “high spirits” and pleasure, helping you bypass stress at least temporarily.

This post tells you the facts and the repercussions of alcohol addiction and abuse. It also explains the alarming statistics of its abuse throughout the world, in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Moderate drinking is good but when you resort to excess and cross the line and become a slave to its consumption that adverse effects start showing on your health, finances, and family and social commitments.

Moderate consumption for healthy adults is defined as the use of up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

What is alcohol?

Alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol) is the component found in beer, wine, and spirits that causes intoxication or drunkenness.

It is a by-product of the fermentation process of grains, vegetables, or fruits. In the fermentation process, the yeast and bacteria convert sugar in the food into alcohol. The alcohol being referred to here is ethanol, which is used in alcoholic beverages.

The other known alcohol is methyl alcohol or methanol. Methanol is very toxic and one sip can produce blindness due to optic nerve damage.

Drinking even 30 ml of methyl alcohol can be fatal. It is never used in alcoholic beverages and its use is restricted to laboratories and industry.

Alcohol is classified as a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug. It depresses the central nervous system (CNS) at high doses. At lower doses, it acts as a CNS stimulant, making you feel euphoric and talkative.

Drinking it in large excess can lead to drowsiness, respiratory depression, coma, or even death.

Facts about alcohol addiction and abuse

Drinking alcohol causes intoxication by its action on the central nervous system. In lesser doses, it stimulates the central nervous system while in larger doses, it causes depression of the nervous system.

  • It is a myth that drinking alcohol causes the death of brain cells. In moderation, it improves cognitive function.
  • People are attracted to drinking due to the feeling of mood elevation it causes. Though the legal age for drinking is 21 years in most countries, 80% of high school students have drunk alcohol (U.S. stats).
  • The fact remains and statistics do tell us that trying it can get you addicted. It acts as a great reliever of mental stress, which in today’s life is a constant companion for most of us. Being able to control your drinking is important and it should not be indulged by the weak-minded or people with weak willpower.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation can be beneficial to health. It lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, and gallstones. Drinking in moderation is defined as 2 pegs of 60 ml in men and one peg in women and men above the age of 65 years. And do avoid those fried and trans fat snacks when drinking.
  • Intoxication results from drinking too much alcohol and this limit varies from person to person. Intoxication is due to depression of the central nervous system. When you become intoxicated your inhibitions of life are removed and you tend to become reckless. A person’s normal capacity to act or reason is inhibited.
  • Binge drinking is excessive drinking in one sitting. It is defined as drinking five or more pegs during a drinking bout. More than half of the alcohol-related deaths from car crashes, alcohol poisoning, suicide, and violence are a result of binge drinking.
  • Drinking during pregnancy can harm the fetus and can cause certain congenital defects in the fetus. This condition is called fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • It is a myth that black coffee or a cold shower will sober up an intoxicated person. Only time allows the intoxication to pass out.
  • Drinking alcohol does not cause weight gain. As a matter of fact, it is found that it causes little weight loss in women.
  • Drinking high quantities is detrimental to health and can spiral into a series of health disorders. It can be dangerous and has short-term and long-term effects which are serious.


Alcoholism statistics help to understand the destructive trend of its use and abuse that has emerged and is emerging in the population of various ages.

These drinking statistics also point out the harmful and adverse impact, alcohol abuse has on the community at large.

The statistics given below are for the

  • Whole world
  • Country-wise
  • United States
  • United Kingdom

Key facts worldwide

The harmful use of alcohol is a global problem causing millions of deaths. It has affected hundreds of thousands of young deaths.

It is not only a fundamental underlying factor in many diseases but also a predecessor to injury and violence. Furthermore, its adverse effects spread throughout a community or a country.

Contrary to belief, alcohol consumption is directly related to education. The more educated a person is, the more likelihood of him being a chronic drinker. Similarly, the wealthier a person, the more likelihood of him being a heavy drinker.

See the figures of its impact.

  • Worldwide, 3 million people die every year from the use of alcohol – this equals 5.3 % of all deaths in the world.
  • The percentage of deaths due to alcohol among men is 7.7 % of all worldwide deaths compared to 2.6 % of all deaths among women, showing that men are three times more vulnerable to alcohol-related deaths.
  • Stats from 2010 show that alcohol consumption among male drinkers worldwide was on average 19.4 liters against 7.0 liters in females.
  • Alcohol consumption is the cause of death and disability prevailing early in life. In the age group 20–39 years, about 13.5 % of the total deaths are due to alcohol.
  • Of late, an association has been established between excessive drinking and the incidence of infectious diseases, which include tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

This post by the World Health Organization gives some more information on worldwide statistics.

Alcohol statistics by countryBelow is a list, compiled by the World Health Organisation, of the 15 top alcohol-consuming countries in the world.

  • Moldova (situated in East Europe between Romania and Ukraine)
  • Czech republic
  • Hungary
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Estonia (situated in East Europe – south of Finland and west of Russia)
  • Andorra ( situated in southwestern Europe between France and Spain)
  • Romania
  • Belarus  (situated in eastern Europe with borders touching Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia)
  • Croatia
  • South Korea
  • Portugal
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Great Britain
  • Canada

U.S. statistics

  • 17.6 million people in the U.S. are alcoholics.
  • 1 in 18 or 5.5% of people in the U.S.A. are alcohol dependent.
  • At any given time, 4,00,000 people in the United States are undergoing treatment for alcoholism.
  • Alcohol death statistics indicate that more than 1,00,000 deaths occur annually due to its excessive consumption.
  • 65 people die on the highways due to drunken driving every day.
  • 50% of fatal car accidents are due to alcohol consumption.
  • Teenage alcohol statistics show that every day, more than 10,000 teenage kids try out alcohol for the first time.
  • Among the countries of the world, the United States stands 26th on the list of alcohol-consuming countries.
  • Alcohol abuse statistics show the number of deaths due to alcoholic liver diseases to be about 14,500 per year.
  • About 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported each year.
  • An estimated 6.6 million children live in households where one parent is an alcoholic, making them potential candidates for alcoholism.
  • Though alcoholism takes years to develop, statistics show that it develops much more quickly in teenagers and young adults.
  • Treatment statistics of chronic drinkers are encouraging and have shown reduced criminal activity and an increased rate of employment among chronic drinkers.
  • Studies conducted in 2002, showed that 2.6 million binge drinkers were between the ages of 12 to 17 years.
  • Statistics on alcoholics show that there are three times as many men than women, out of the total of 13.7 million alcoholics.
  • 7.4 % of the adult population in the United States is alcohol-dependent.
  • Drinking patterns among employed women show increased consumption and a greater frequency of consuming than women who are housewives.
  • The incidence of girls beginning to drink at a young age has increased. Statistics from the 1960s show that 7% of girls between the age of 10 to 14 years used alcohol.
  • Statistics of the 1990s show that figure increased to an alarming 31%.
  • Alcohol accounts for nearly half of the murders, suicides, and accidental deaths.
  • Summary of U.S. statistics: The statistics go on to achieve frightening proportions. According to the alcohol abuse statistics, the United States is facing a problem of enormous proportions, and it is incredibly widespread!

U.K. statistics

  • England is the land of notorious binge drinkers.
  • The law in England allows alcohol establishments to stay open 24 hours, which allows for all-day consumption.
  • Alcohol-related death statistics on the number of deaths in the U.K. show an encouraging trend – In the year 1992, alcohol-connected deaths were 4,023. In 2008 this figure rose to 9,031 and in 2009 the figure came down to 8,664. Some attribute this to a global recession.
  • Alcohol-related deaths are more in males than females.
  • Deaths due to drinking in males more than doubled from 1992 to 2008. It was 9.0 per 1,00,000 in 1992 and rose to 18.7 per 1,00,000 in 2008. There was a marginal decrease in 2009 to 17.4 per 1,00,000.
  • Similarly, statistics in females show the alcohol-related deaths as follows: In 1992 the figure was 4.6 per 1,00,000. In 2008 the figure rose to 8.7 per 1,00,000 and decreased slightly to 8.4 per 1,00,000 in 2009.
  • In statistics of 2009, the total number of alcohol-related deaths in males was 5690, and in females, it was 2974.
  • Per capita, the annual consumption is 13.37 liters, which includes beer, wines, spirits, and others.
  • Consumption of beer is the maximum followed by wines, and spirits take the third position.

These statistics tell you about deaths due to drunken driving, deaths due to alcoholic liver diseases, and the prevalence of its abuse in teenagers and young adults.

You drink, thinking that you are not vulnerable. These facts and figures described above are a part of reality and tell you that you are as much vulnerable as the drinker sitting next to you, to accidents, diseases, and the effects of alcoholism.

Many people try to give up drinking. Very few succeed. This is mostly because of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that manifest.

The sudden withdrawal of drinking in a chronic drinker is dangerous and severe and can even be fatal. Seizures are known to occur due to the abrupt cessation of drinking and form the most dangerous symptom of alcohol withdrawal.

The most effective way for an alcoholic to give up is to get himself  treated by inpatient rehab with group therapy, counseling, and medication.