Alcohol Abuse Facts


Approximately 18 million Americans 8.5 percent of the population '

meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. (Grant,

Approximately 18 million Americans 8.5 percent of the population â¹ meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism.


Beer is the drink of choice in most cases of heavy drinking, binge

drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking. (Rogers and Greenfield,


In 2002, an estimated 17,419 people died in alcohol ¨related traffic

crashes'an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41

percent of the 42,815 total traffic fatalities. (NHTSA, 2003)

Incidence of intoxication (BAC of 0.08 g/dl or greater) for drivers in fatal

crashes in 2003 was highest for motorcycle operators (29 percent) and

lowest for drivers of large trucks (1 percent). The incidence of

intoxication for drivers of light trucks and passenger car drivers was the

same (22 percent).û (NHTSA, 2004)

Of the general driving age public, 97 percent see drinking and driving as

a threat to their personal safety, and 66 percent feel it is extremely

important to do something to reduce the problem in terms of where tax

dollars should be spent.û (Gallup Organization, 2003)

About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related

crash at some time in their lives.û (NHTSA, 2001)

In 2001, more than half a million people were injured in crashes where

police reported that alcohol was present ' an average of one person

injured approximately every minute. (Blincoe, Seay et al., 2002)

The highest prevalence of both binge and heavy drinking in 2000 was for

young adults aged 18 to 25, with the peak rate occurring at age 21.

(SAMHSA, 2000)

Impairment is not determined by the type of drink, but rather by the

amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time.û (IIHS, June


Alcohol is closely linked with violence. About 40 percent of all crimes

(violent and non-violent) are committed under the influence of alcohol.û

(Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998)

Alcohol is society's legal, oldest and most popular drug.û (Narcotic

Educational Foundation of America, 2002)

Beer is the drink most commonly consumed by people stopped for

alcohol-impaired driving or involved in alcohol-related crashes. (IIHS,


Alcohol-related fatalities are caused primarily by the consumption of beer

(80 percent) followed by liquor/wine at 20 percent. (Runge, 2002)

Those drivers 21 to 24 years old were most likely to be intoxicated (BAC

of 0.08 g/dl or greater) in fatal crashes in 2003.û Thirty-two percent of

drivers 21 to 24 years old involved in fatal crashes were intoxicated,

followed by ages 25 to 34 (27 percent) and 35 to 44 (24 percent).û

(NHTSA, 2004)

The impact of alcohol involvement increases with injury severity.

Alcohol-involved crashes accounted for 10 percent of property damage

only crash costs, 21 percent of nonfatal injury crashes; and 46 percent of

fatal injury crash costs.û (NHTSA, 2002)


The intoxication rate (those over .08 BAC) for male drivers involved in

fatal crashes was 25 percent, compared with 12 percent for female

drivers. (NHTSA, 2003)

The average person metabolizes alcohol at the rate of about one drink

per hour. Only time will sober a person up.ûû Drinking strong coffee,

exercising or taking a cold shower will not help. (Michigan State

University, 2002)

For fatal crashes occurring from midnight to 3:00 AM, 77 percent involved

alcohol in 2003.û The next most dangerous time period for alcohol-related

crash deaths were 9 PM to midnight (64 percent of fatal crashes involved

alcohol), followed by 3 AM to 6 AM (60 percent of fatal crashes involved

alcohol). (NHTSA, 2004)û

Drunk driving is the nation?s most frequently committed violent crime,

killing someone every 30 minutes. (NHTSA, 2003)

Those drivers over the age of 70 were least likely to be intoxicated (BAC

of 0.08 g/dl or greater) in fatal crashes in 2003 ¨ only five percent were

intoxicated. (NHTSA, 2004)

The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than 3 times as

high at night as during the day (61 percent vs. 18 percent). For all

crashes, the alcohol involvement rate is 5 times as high at night (16

percent vs. 3 percent).û (NHTSA, 2004)

The speed of alcohol absorption affects the rate at which one becomes

drunk. Unlike foods, alcohol does not have to be slowly digested.û As a

person drinks faster than the alcohol can be eliminated, the drug

accumulates in the body, resulting in higher and higher levels of alcohol

in the blood. (Narcotic Education Foundation of America, 2002)

A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5

ounces of 72-proof distilled spirits, all of which contain the same amount

of alcohol -- about .54 ounces. (NHTSA, 2002)

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people from 2 to

33 years old. (NHTSA, 2004)

In 2003, 30 percent of all fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-

related, compared to 53 percent on weekends. For all crashes, the

alcohol involvement rate was 5 percent during the week and 12 percent

during the weekend. (NHTSA, 2004)

There is evidence that heavier drinkers prefer to drink at bars and other

person's homes, and at multiple locations requiring longer driver

distances. Young drivers have been found to prefer drinking at private

parties, while older, more educated drivers prefer bars and taverns.

(NHTSA, 2001)

Binge drinking has been defined as at least five drinks in a row for men

and four drinks in a row for women. (Wechsler et al, 2002)

Stay Connected
Subscribe to our newsletter to get addiction help, recovery inspiration and community tips delivered to your inbox.
No Thanks. I'm not Interested