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Alcohol and Drug Information, Facts, and Statistics

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. Drinking Habits of Young Adults
  3. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics
  4. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Facts
  5. Myths and Facts About Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  6. Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Alcohol and drug abuse are defined as patterns of drinking or using drugs (prescription and illicit) that result in harm to a person’s health, well-being, relationships, and productivity. A person who abuses drugs and alcohol is not necessarily an addict. However, abuse of these substances is a risk factor for developing an addiction because continuous abuse can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

If you or someone you love wants to get help for alcohol or drug abuse or dependence, call our around-the-clock helpline at 1-888-287-0471 for assistance with finding a treatment center.

Factoid: Binge drinking (consuming five or more standard drinks in one session) more than two times is considered alcohol misuse. Using prescription medication for non-medical purposes is classified as prescription drug abuse.

Drinking Habits of Young Adults

Existing research has shown that young adults tend to overestimate how much their peers are drinking and underestimate how much they themselves drink. Our research found that individuals are actually most often correct in their assessments of their own drinking habits. Additionally, we found that a majority of young adults believe that they have "that friend", or an individual who drinks more excessively than the rest of the peer group, and of those who have "that friend," over half believe that individual may or does have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

Current efforts to reduce binge drinking may be incorrectly targeting individuals in order to change their perceptions of their own drinking, and should instead be focused on those individuals that are already believed to be suffering from an AUD.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics

Alcohol is the oldest drug around. It is also the most widely-used and almost 50 percent of people aged 12 and over have consumed alcohol in the United States. Most people are able to consume alcohol responsibly. However, for one reason or another, some people abuse alcohol and develop addictions. Drug information from the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE)states that approximately 10 to 15 million people in the United States can be classified as alcoholics. About 4.5 million of those people are adolescents. Alcohol dependence will affect 17 percent of men and 8 percent of women at some point in their lives.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 79,000 deaths per year are the direct result of excessive alcohol consumption. It is the third leading cause of death (life-style related) in the nation and the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24. In 2005, excessive alcohol caused 4 million emergency room visits and 1.6 million hospitalizations. About 2,000 people under the legal drinking age (21) die annually in car crashes due to alcohol and it is involved in nearly 50 percent of all teen deaths involving violence.

Drug abuse is also a major concern for the country. According to the latest drug information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug abuse costs the United States over $600 billion annually in health care treatments, lost productivity, and crime. This breaks down to $181 billion for illicit drugs and $235 billion for alcohol. In 2009 alone, over 2.1 million visits to the emergency department were related to drug abuse, as follows:

  • Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs (27 percent)
  • Illicit drug use (21 percent)
  • Combination of alcohol with drugs (14 percent)
  • Eighty percent of patients were 21 or older
  • Over 420,000 of the visits were related to cocaine use
  • The most common drug combination was alcohol and central nervous system depressants (over 519,000)

However, the cost to the individual is often immeasurable because drug and alcohol abuse can lead to lost relationships, child and spousal abuse, and unemployment.


Approximately 75 percent of people who use illicit drugs are employed, leading to an increased risk for having an accident on the job.


Men are more likely to binge drink than women.The average is 12.7 episodes of binge drinking per year for men vs. 2.7 episodes per year for women.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Facts

Alcohol affects men and women differently due to the differences in size and body mass. Generally, men have higher tolerance to alcohol than women do. Additionally, a woman’s tolerance levels decrease as she ages.

Consuming two to three drinks in 60 minutes is enough to impair judgment. Five drinks in one hour can raise blood alcohol levels to 0.10 percent, which is the legal limit in many states. If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI, it may be a signal that you need help to overcome a drug or alcohol abuse problem. Call our toll-free confidential helpline at 1-888-287-0471 to get information about available treatment programs and drug information.


Flunitrazepam Addiction Treatment


Flunitrazepam is a drug commonly known on the street as Mexican valium, roofies and circles. Medicinal uses include treatment for insomnia or treatment as a sedative and a pre-anesthetic medication. Flunitrazepam is highly addictive, and once a user is addicted, he or she typically needs to undergo flunitrazepam addiction treatment.Read More

Although alcohol lowers inhibitions, excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with sexual function. Consistently drinking too much can impede male hormone production and testicular function, which leads to impotence and infertility. Secondary male characteristics, like facial and chest hair, may be reduced as well.

Alcohol and drug use are commonly involved in sex crimes. According to the alcohol and drug information provided by the CDC, alcohol impairs judgment and some men may mistake a woman’s (or fellow man’s) friendliness for sexual overtures. They may not realize how aggressive their behavior is. Additionally, drugs such as flunitrazepam are used to sedate victims for forced sexual intercourse.

Reduced cognitive function may cause a woman to agree to sexual intercourse when she otherwise would not. Additionally, people under the influence of drugs and alcohol may engage in risky sexual behavior,like not using condoms and having sex with multiple partners.

Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to short-term and long-term health complications. Men who drink have an increased risk of developing cancer in the mouth, esophagus, liver, and colon. Both men and women may develop neurological problems including dementia, neuropathy, and stroke from chronic alcohol abuse. Psychiatric problems like depression and anxiety are associated with long-term abuse of alcohol.

There are no safe levels of alcohol consumption for pregnant women, and alcohol can cause the most harm when consumed during the first trimester. Drinking while pregnant can cause miscarriage or stillbirth and lead to the development of physical and neurological birth defects in babies. Certain drugs taken during pregnancy can cause the child to be born with a physical dependence on them and/or develop withdrawal symptoms.

The most common health complication associated with alcohol abuse is liver damage. Chronic over consumption of alcohol can lead to the development of hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

Stress is a major factor in the consumption of drugs and alcohol. People use them to reduce anxiety, regulate emotions, and relieve emotional pain.

Almost 50 percent of people who use drugs and alcohol have a mental health disorder. Oftentimes, substance abuse is an attempt to self-medicate.


Child abuse is a contributing factor to the development of an addiction.


About 65 percent of people addicted to drugs are able to obtain them from friends and family members.

Myths and Facts About Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Myth: Marijuana is not addictive.

Fact: Many people believe marijuana is not addictive because it is a “natural” substance that comes from a plant. Cocaine is made from the coca plant and is highly addictive. Where a drug comes from often has little bearing on how addictive it can be. According to the drug information available, approximately one out of ten people who use marijuana will develop an addiction to it. If you are addicted to marijuana or other drugs, you can get help at an addiction treatment center. Call our safe confidential hotline at 1-888-287-0471 for more information.

Myth: You can’t get addicted the first time you try drugs.

Fact: Every person’s physiology is different. Therefore, you cannot predict how any drug, including alcohol, will affect you, especially the first time you try it. There are substances that are highly addictive and can cause the onset of withdrawal symptoms after the first time you use them.

Myth: You can cure an addiction by taking medication.

Fact: False. However, the withdrawal symptoms experienced by a person addicted to drugs can be mitigated through the judicious use of prescription medication. Drug abuse and addiction can only be “cured” through a combination of detoxification, counseling, education, and abstinence.

Myth: People are only hurting themselves when they take drugs or drink alcohol.

Fact: When a person abuses drugs and alcohol, everyone pays the price. A person who misuses or has an addiction to drugs and alcohol is more likely to be involved in an accident or commit a crime. Additionally, people under the influence often say and do things they normally would not do while sober. This can lead them to hurt their friends, family members, and coworkers.

Myth: Prescription drugs are okay if prescribed by a health care professional.

Fact: Only if they are taken as prescribed. Drugs consumed in a manner not indicated by the prescription can be dangerous and lead to drug dependency or the development of serious health complications including strokes, comas, and seizures. Always follow your doctor’s directions when treating a medical condition with prescription drugs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Q. Why do people abuse drugs and alcohol?


Q.Is it possible to abuse over-the-counter drugs?


Q.How do I know if I have a drug or alcohol addiction?


Q.Is sharing prescription drugs illegal?


Q.What are withdrawal symptoms?


Q. How long will drugs and alcohol show up on a drug test?


Q. How long do substance abuse treatment programs last?


Q.How much does it cost to treat someone with a substance abuse or addiction problem?


Q. What is a co-occurring disorder?


Q. Are older adults at risk for drug and alcohol abuse?


Q. How can a 12-step program help a person overcome a drug or alcohol abuse problem?


Q. How many people overcome their addictions?


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  1. Question: What is a physical addiction?Submitted By: Arlene B.

    • S.F.

      A physical addiction is where the body becomes tolerant to a drug and requires more to function normally. The body stops producing certain chemicals because the drug is creating them. Once the drug is withdrawn, the body will take a while to restart production of these chemicals.

  2. Question: What is a psychological addiction?Submitted By: Gordon B

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      A psychological addiction is where person feels as though he or she cannot function without the drug, particularly in stressful or social situations.

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      A number of cough medicines contain dextromethorphan, also known as DMX, or codeine, which are addictive substances.

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