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Do Americans Have a Drinking Problem?

While alcohol is abundant in most countries around the globe, America has a larger rate of alcohol abuse present in the country. Excessive amounts of alcohol have been consumed by Americans for centuries. Today, alcohol is still a large part of American culture as a way to celebrate and enjoy times with friends and family. Alcoholic barrages can be found nearly anywhere, including weddings, birthday parties, barbeques, sports events, etc. Even drinking just a little  

While the occasional drink or two is normal for American adults, it is important to understand and identify when you or a loved one has gone too far with their alcohol consumption. Unhealthy habits of drinking every day or binge drinking can quickly turn into alcoholism if not addressed in time. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 14 million Americans ages 12 and up currently struggle with alcohol use disorder. 

Struggling with alcoholism for a long time can lead to health consequences like heart disease or even early death if not treated. In this article, we will explore the statistics of American drinking habits, why people typically drink alcohol, and when alcohol consumption becomes a problem.

America’s Drinking Habits in Numbers

To explore the question of Americans having a drinking problem, let’s first take a look at data collected regarding people’s drinking habits. According to a 2019 national survey on drug use and health, over 85% percent of Americans who are ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime. Nearly 70% reported drinking in the past year, and 54.9% drank in the last month.

Binge drinking is consuming a large amount of alcohol in one setting, and according to that same study, 25.8% of people 18 and older engaged in binge drinking in the past month. For reference, that is over 1/4 of Americans over 18, which is a significant amount of people. Out of the 14 million people struggling with alcohol use disorder, 414,000 were adolescents ages 12-17. Unfortunately, less than 10% of Americans with alcoholism ever receive treatment for their condition.

Main Reasons People in America Drink Alcohol

Americans drink for a variety of reasons from relaxing after work all the way to avoiding problems and self-medicating. 

  • Peer pressure from others
  • To loosen up and be more social
  • To relax at the end of a long day
  • As a means to self-medicate an underlying mental health issue
  • Attempting to cope with stress
  • Early alcohol use

The Fine Line Between Moderate Drinking and Problem Drinking

It is always important to remember when drinking that there is a fine line between responsible or moderate drinking and problem drinking. The CDC defines moderate drinking for men as consuming less than 1-2 standard alcoholic drinks on a single day and less than 1 standard drink for women. 

For example, someone who enjoys a glass of wine or a can of beer after a long day does not have a drinking problem. Heavy drinking which can be dangerous, is defined as 14 standard drinks per week for men and 8 drinks for women. Problem drinking or alcoholism can begin to affect an individual’s daily life. At this point it is no longer about loosening up or having fun, consumption of alcohol is required to function properly. 

When alcoholics go an extended time period without drinking, they begin to experience painful withdrawal symptoms which is why many Americans struggle to quit their addiction. The number of alcohol-related deaths per year in America is about 140,000. The fact is, alcohol’s harms far outweigh its benefits.

When it is Time to Seek Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

If you are concerned with your own or loved one’s drinking habits, you may be wondering when it is necessary to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. 

There are plenty of signs that a person struggling with alcoholism will display, so it is important to pay attention to your own or a loved one’s behaviors as well as their drinking patterns. 

Below are a few common signs that someone may be an alcoholic:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol at a time to feel the same effects
  • Having strong urges or cravings to drink
  • Continuing to drink despite the negative alcohol-related causes
  • Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when taking an extended break from drinking
  • Yellow eyes
  • Dry skin and brittle hair
  • Excessive drinking, even in dangerous situations such as driving or swimming

Often times individuals struggling with alcohol abuse do not even realize or refuse to admit when they have a problem. In these cases, an intervention organized by loved ones may be necessary to get them treatment. At the Haven, our counselors can assist you with the process so that your loved one can get on the road to recovery.

Alcoholism age statistic american drinking problem

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the US have a drinking problem?

Since alcohol is so easily accessible and present in most gatherings around the country, quite a few Americans have developed a drinking problem. Over 14 million Americans ages 12 which is far below the legal drinking age, and older currently struggle with alcohol use disorder. While other countries report higher alcohol consumption, America has among the most alcohol abuse. Based on these statistics, it is fair to say the United States has a drinking problem.

Why is Alcohol a Problem in the US?

Alcohol addiction develops for a variety of reasons in the US. Since alcohol is such a large part of American culture, it is incredibly easy to develop a drinking problem, sometimes without even realizing it. Alcohol is also commonly used as a way to reduce stress and relax after a long day of work which has the potential to create an alcohol dependence over an extended period of time. 

Is America a Drinking Culture?

Alcoholic drinks are served at most American social gatherings as it has been a large part of American culture since the 1700s, when they became popular in North America. Back then, colonists were drinking several gallons of alcohol per year. Today, events like weddings, birthday parties, barbeques, sports events, etc. all serve alcohol as a way to celebrate the day.

The Haven is Here to Help

At The Haven, we understand how difficult it can be to overcome an addiction. Our team of medical professionals is ready to provide the support and medical care you need for a successful recovery. 

Our proven methods for detoxification and treatment have helped thousands of patients in their journey toward sobriety. You do not have to deal with alcoholism on your own. The Haven is here to help.

When you are ready to take the first step, contact us at (844) 933-4145 for more information.

Alcoholism age statistic american drinking problem