According to a 2015 national U.S. survey
from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 86.4 percent of Americans over the age of 18 reported they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. This may include someone who drinks on a regular basis or someone who drank once and never again.
However, more than one-third of Americans over the age of 18 said they participated in binge drinking or heavy alcohol use in the past month. These numbers suggest Americans’ relationship with alcohol might not be as healthy as you might assume.
Experts estimate 16 million people
over age 18 in the United States have alcohol use disorder. This condition is characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.
When broken down by sex, the overall number of women who drink compared to men is lower. But a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry
reports the increase in the number of women engaging in high-risk drinking (four or more drinks per day at least weekly for a year) rose nearly 60 percent. This is compared to the 15 percent increase among men who have five or more drinks per day at least weekly for a year.
Heavy alcohol use also harms the economy. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that excessive alcohol use cost the United States $249 billion
in the form of loss of productivity at work, healthcare expenses, and losses from law enforcement or motor vehicle accidents.