Did you know that drinking too much can harm your health? Excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking, can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver disease, and cancer.
Study of Alcohol-Related Deaths Among US Adults
In a 2014 study of alcohol dependence among US adult drinkers, CDC researchers found that from 2006 through 2010, excessive alcohol consumption accounted for nearly 1 in 10 deaths among working-age US adults aged 20-64. The study, published in CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease, also revealed that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year during this period, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.
These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease, and health effects from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes.
Study of Alcohol Dependence Among US Adults
In another study published in CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers found that 9 in 10 people who drink excessively are not alcohol dependent. Alcohol dependence is a chronic medical condition that includes a current or past history of excessive drinking, a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite repeated problems with drinking, and an inability to control alcohol consumption.
The study found that nearly 1 in 3 adults are excessive drinkers, and most of them binge drink, usually on multiple occasions. In contrast, about 1 in 30 adults are classified as alcohol dependent. Rates of alcohol dependence increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, about 10% of binge drinkers are alcohol dependent, while 30% of people who binge frequently (10 or more times a month) are alcohol dependent.
What Can be Done
Alcohol dependence is a serious medical problem, and it is important to assure that high-quality treatment for this condition is available to those who need it. However, most excessive drinkers are not alcohol dependent; therefore, it is also important to implement effective community and clinical prevention strategies for excessive drinking-such as increasing the price of alcohol, reducing alcohol availability, and screening and counseling for excessive drinking among all adults in primary care. A comprehensive approach to reducing excessive drinking that includes evidence-based community strategies, screening and counseling for excessive drinking among adults in healthcare settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it is likely to have the greatest impact on reducing excessive drinking and related harms.