August 25, 2022 Addiction

Are Americans More Likely to Have a Drinking Problem?

Graphics for alcohol use statistics

Among first-world countries, America has one of the lowest alcohol use rates, with countries such as the UK, France, Belgium, and Germany above us on the list. However, the US has a higher rate of alcohol abuse than any of these countries, and that alone is a problem. So what is the current issue with people’s drinking habits in America?

In this article, we will break down alcoholism in the US, American alcohol consumption by number, the difference between excessive drinking and alcoholism, and when it is time to seek treatment for alcohol abuse. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder, do not hesitate to contact Indiana Center of Recovery for professional help.

Alcoholism in the United States

The United States is no stranger to alcohol as it has been used in the country for centuries when colonists of North America would drink several gallons of alcohol per week when clean water was scarce. Today, alcoholism is still a significant part of American culture. While we’ve learned to moderate drinking quite a bit since then, Americans still misuse alcohol, eventually leading to an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol can be found at almost any social gathering, such as sporting events, birthday parties, barbeques, live shows, etc.

Because the substance is everywhere and so easy to access as an average American adult, so many people are developing an alcohol problem. About 15 million Americans are currently struggling with alcoholism. Without treatment, alcoholism can lead to long-term health problems such as heart disease or liver damage and can also cause mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.

Alcoholism can result in an early death as well. In fact, approximately 95,000 Americans die per year due to alcohol-related causes. No matter what, alcohol’s harms will always outweigh its social benefits.

Statistics on American Drinking Patterns

For most Americans, the extent of their drinking is popping open a can of beer or having a glass of wine at the end of a hard week to unwind. For others, their pattern of drinking is much more frequent. The rule of thumb is the more that you drink, the higher risk you have of developing alcohol use disorder. So, how often do Americans drink?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 86% of American adults who are over the age of 18 reports drinking alcohol at some point. In this study, 70% reported having a drink in the last year while 56% of the national survey said they had an alcoholic drink in the last month.

People drink for a variety of reasons from loosening up in the presence of other people to using it as a coping mechanism.

A Blurred Line Between Heavy Drinking and Alcoholism

It is important to understand the difference between each level of drinking including moderate, heavy drinking, and finally, alcoholism. The CDC defines moderate drinking as 1-2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women on a single day. This does not mean drinking this many standard drinks every day is moderate, it is just for a single day.

The next level of drinking is heavy or excessive drinking and this is defined as having 14 drinks for men and 8 drinks for women per week. When it comes to binge drinking, it can be challenging to determine the difference between heavy drinking and actual alcoholism as they are not too far apart from one another.

Alcoholism is not defined by the amount of alcohol an individual has every day but by the way alcohol is impacting the person’s life. When a person who drinks begins feeling withdrawal symptoms like headaches, shakiness, severe sweating, or nausea whenever they go extended periods without consuming alcohol, they may be struggling with alcohol dependence.

When to Seek Treatment

It is time to seek treatment for alcoholism when a person’s alcohol use is beginning to impact their daily life. They may show up late or fail to fulfill important obligations at work or at school. This person will continue to drink even if it has become known to cause problems in their life.

It is also common for alcoholics to have a few unsuccessful attempts at quitting drinking. When going extended periods without drinking, alcoholics will also experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can be physically noticeable. When you start to notice these signs in yourself or a loved one, it is time to get the necessary treatment for alcohol abuse.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does the US have a drinking problem?

While America is among first-world countries with lower rates of alcohol use, it has a higher rate of alcohol abuse. About 15 million Americans are currently struggling with alcoholism; on average, 95,000 people die yearly in the United States from alcohol-related causes.

Why is alcohol a problem in the US?

Alcohol can be found at almost any social gathering, from birthday parties to live events. It is easy for those of legal drinking age to access alcohol in America.

Is America a drinking culture?

Drinking is a huge part of American culture as it has been used for centuries. Alcohol plays a significant role in all different types of celebrations around the country and happy hours at wine bars.