Slightly more than half of Americans aged 12 or older report being current drinkers of alcohol. SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that in 2013 there were 136.9 million current alcohol users aged 12 or older, with 22.9% classified as binge drinkers and 6.3% as heavy drinkers. About 17.3 million of these, or 6.6%, met criteria for an alcohol use disorder in the past year. Excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women), can increase a person’s risk of developing serious health problems, including brain and liver damage, heart disease, hypertension, and fetal damage in pregnant women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol use causes 88,000 deaths a year. Many Americans begin drinking at an early age. According to the SAMHSA report Behavioral Health, United States, 2012, about 24% of eighth graders and 64% of twelfth graders used alcohol in the past year.
According to the NSDUH:
- Men are more likely to report heavy alcohol use (binge drinking for 5 or more of the past 30 days) than women, 9.5% to 3.3%.
- People reporting two or more races had the highest rate of heavy alcohol use at 8.9%, and 7.3% of non-Hispanic whites reported heavy alcohol use. African Americans reported heavy alcohol use at 4.5%, and Hispanics reported it at 4.8%. At 2%, Asian Americans had the lowest rate of heavy alcohol use.
- Only 7.7% of adults with an alcohol use disorder received treatment in the past year.
For more information on alcohol facts and its effects on your brain and body, visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
For more information about the treatment of alcohol use disorders, including medication-assisted treatment, visit the Behavioral Health Treatments and Services topic. For more information about alcohol use disorders, see the Mental and Substance Use Disorders topic.