Alcohol Facts & Statistics That Will Surprise You

Surprising Facts & Statistics About Alcohol Abuse

Here are some surprising facts and statistics about alcohol consumption & alcohol abuse in the United States. Learn about the health effects of alcohol, cancer risk, vitamin deficiencies, etc., and read these fascinating statistics about the demographics of alcohol drinkers, alcoholism trends, and more.

Health Effects of Alcohol


Heavy alcohol use (3+ drinks a day) is associated with a marked rise in risk of cancer and other diseases. When alcohol is broken down in the liver, one of its byproducts is acetaldehyde. This highly toxic compound enters the blood stream and damages cells, causing the feeling of a “hangover”. Alcohol is listed as a probable human carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute. Studies have specifically proven a highlighted risk of renal cell carcinoma, and cancers of the head, neck, and throat.

Alcohol also increases the amount of estrogen in the bloodstream, which researchers think is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer in both genders.

Vitamin Deficiency

Interestingly, the byproducts of alcohol consumption also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb vitamins A, C, D, and some of the B vitamins. In heavy drinkers, this can lead to long-term vitamin deficiency problems.

Suicide Statistics

Alcohol use is correlated with higher risk of suicide. Elevated blood alcohol levels are highly likely in suicide autopsies, especially among the white population. A high level of blood alcohol was present in almost 1/3 of successful suicides among men and 36% among women!

Health Benefits of Alcohol

The effects of alcohol consumption in the body may vary by type of alcohol consumed (beer vs wine vs hard alcohol). Limited evidence has emerged about the benefits of wine over other drinks. The possibly heart-protective components of wine, like Resveratrol, are still being studied. To date, no definitive evidence exists to show that moderate drinking has any benefits that outweigh the risks. The long-term effects, whether good or bad, of light/occasional drinking are still inconclusive.

Demographic Statistics About Alcohol

Of all demographic groups in America, white people are the #1 most likely to drink alcohol in general, and they are the #2 most likely group to engage in heavy drinking. Approximately 30% of white men are heavy drinkers.

Although the Hispanic population as a whole has a lower rate of drinking alcohol in general, Hispanic men are the #1 most likely group in America to be heavy drinkers.

Native Americans drink the #2 most overall, and they are #3 most likely to engage in heavy drinking (after hispanic men and white men).

African-Americans drink less than Whites, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

Asian-Americans have the lowest rates of overall alcohol use and abuse.

Affluent, highly-educated, white Americans are the #1 most likely ethnic group to drink and drive.

Levels of alcohol in the bloodstream indicating impairment are found in about 29% of all traffic deaths in the USA.

Hardcore drunk drivers & chronic drunk drivers (regardless of race) are the #1 most likely to cause fatal accidents.

Cocaine users are statistically very likely to be addicted to alcohol.

For each year an adolescent delays trying alcohol, the odds of developing a pattern of heavy drinking fall almost 10%, especially during the ages 12-15.

However, rates of alcohol abuse in college has crept slightly upward in recent years, with even larger upward trends in drinking and driving, as well as in hospitalization for alcohol poisoning.

Recovery from Alcoholism Statistics

The long-term recovery rates of alcoholics who seek treatment is difficult to measure. After the first attempt at detoxing and stopping, behavioral scientists estimate a 1-year success/abstinence rate of only about 25%.

This number goes up with the length of treatment and ability of the addict to access long-term support, including certain medications under some circumstances. Short-term success at abstaining from alcohol seems to have a strong predictive effect on successful long-term recovery from alcoholism.

Additional Sources: PsychCentralWiley Online LibraryNIAAAPubMed CentralJSAD