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Alcoholism Statistics

Alcoholism is a chronic disease in which a person has become dependent on alcohol. This alcohol dependence carries with it four symptoms common among alcoholics: a strong craving or need to drink, a loss of control of being able to stop once you start drinking, withdrawal symptoms and sickness when you stop drinking, and an increasing tolerance to alcohol so that you have to drink more and more in order to feel intoxicated.

Although alcoholism can be treated and many alcoholics are in recovery, it cannot be cured at this time. Treatment can include therapy along with medication and while alcoholism has many negative effects on the body, the body can often repair or partially repair itself when drinking has ceased. There are many interesting statistics to be examined about alcoholism in its relation to different ethnic and age groups along with frightening statistics about the harsh effects alcohol abuse has on your body and on the economy.

Alcoholism and Ethnicity
Survey data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicates that adult drinking (12 or more drinks in the past year) and adult heavy drinking (five drinks on a single day at least once a month) are most prevalent among American Indians and Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians and the least prevalent among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. However, alcohol use is increasing quite a bit among Asian Americans, one of the fastest growing U.S. minority group. Among adolescent minorities studied nationwide, African Americans show the lowest prevalence of lifetime, annual, monthly, daily, and heavy drinking, as well as the lowest frequency of being drunk. Hispanic adolescents have the highest annual prevalence of heavy drinking, followed by Whites.

Alcoholism Statistics for Underage Drinkers
Drinking underage has been statistically proven to increase the odds of developing alcohol dependence. Research indicates that almost 50 percent of adolescents have had at least one drink by the time they start eighth grade and over 20 percent report having been “drunk”. People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism dependence at some time in their lives in comparison to those who have their first alcoholic beverage at age 20 or older. Even with this proven statistic, there are still over 30 percent of 12th graders that engage in heaving drinking, better known as binge drinking, and 20 percent binge drink on more than one occasion. Binge drinking is defined as having at least five or more drinks on one occasion.

Alcoholism Statistics on Liver Disease
According to the NIAAA, Alcoholic Liver Disease includes three conditions: fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Fatty liver, also known as steatosis, is the earliest stage of ALD and can come about just from a few days of excessive drinking. During steatosis the fat inside the liver cells builds up causing a “fatty” liver. Steatosis can easily be reversed when drinking stops.

If you continue to drink heavily for a longer period of time, the damage to your liver may be more severe and possibly life threatening. Drinking heavily for a long period of time can lead to an inflammation of the liver called alcoholic hepatitis. A person suffering from alcoholic hepatitis will have symptoms that include nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and tenderness, jaundice, and, sometimes, mental confusion. If the excessive drinking continues, the inflammation of alcoholic hepatitis can lead to alcoholic cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when healthy liver cells are replaced by scar tissue (fibrosis). With this damage done to the cells of the liver, the liver becomes increasingly unable to perform its important functions in the body.

Here are some alcoholism statistics that involve damage to the liver:

> 3 drinks or more at one time may have toxic effects on the liver if mixed with over-the-counter medications like those with acetaminophen.

> 70 percent of all people suffering from alcoholic hepatitis eventually may develop cirrhosis of the liver.

> Liver cirrhosis was the 12th leading cause of death in the United States in 2000.

> Liver cirrhosis is the fourth leading cause of death in people ages 45–54.

> Women have a higher risk for developing cirrhosis than men.

Alcoholism Statistics Regarding Economics and Cost
While the severe health hazards of alcoholism have already been established, many may not realize that alcoholism also can have a devastating impact on the economic stability of alcoholics and the economic impact on society. The overall economic cost of alcohol abuse has been estimated at $185 billion. Here is the breakdown on where that impact is being felt:

> $134.2 billion (over 70 percent) of estimated costs of alcohol abuse were attributed to lost productivity, including $87.6 billion from alcohol-related illness, $36.5 billion from premature death, and $10.1 billion from crime

> $26.3 billion (14.3 percent) of estimated costs were due to health care expenditures, including $7.5 billion to treat alcohol abuse and dependence and $18.9 billion to treat adverse medical consequences of alcohol consumption

> $15.7 billion (8.5 percent) of estimated costs were property and administrative costs of alcohol-related car accidents

> $6.3 billion (3.4 percent) of estimated costs went into the criminal justice system costs of alcohol-related crime

Help for Alcoholism
There are many national and local programs and resources out there to help people suffering from alcohol dependency. The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service provides a toll-free telephone number, 1-800-662-HELP, offering various resource information and representatives to talk to about substance abuse treatment. If more people recognize and treat alcoholism, perhaps, with time, some of the alcoholism statistics will be reduced and medical problems can be limited.


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