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Dear America, We Have a Drinking Problem.

Dear America, We Have a Drinking Problem.

Eighty-eight thousand deaths a year? One in 10? Why are so many U.S. adults drinking themselves to death? A shocking new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that from 2006 to 2010, 1 in 10 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 died from excessive alcohol use.

Included in that number are people who died from diseases related to long-term drinking, including liver disease, heart disease and breast cancer. The total deaths also included excessive drinking in the short term, which caused death due to alcohol poisoning, car accidents and violence.

Excessive drinking in women is described as 4 or more drinks in a single day or 8 or more a week. For men, it’s 5 or more in a single day or 15 or more a week.

If you’re wondering how one drink is measured, it’s:

  • 12 ounces of 5% beer
  • 8 ounces of 7% malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of 12% wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 40% (80-proof) distilled spirits or liquor

Other key findings from the CDC:

  • lives were shortened by about 30 years
  • almost 70 percent of the alcohol-related deaths involved men
  • the highest rate occurred in New Mexico, the lowest in New Jersey

Perhaps the most startling finding is that 1 in 6 adults in the United States binge drink — that’s 38 million people. And they binge 4 times a month. The stereotypical binge drinker is the young college student, but it turns out that 70% of binge drinkers are over age 26, according to the CDC.

There’s no single reason why people drink to excess or binge, but these numbers should certainly serve as a sobering wake up call. America, we have a problem.

“Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death that kills many Americans in the prime of their lives,” said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., in a press release. The director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion went on to say, “We need to redouble our efforts to implement scientifically proven public health approaches to reduce this tragic loss of life and the huge economic costs that result.”

CDC researchers used data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) application for 2006-2010.

Related Reading
What Too Much Drinking Can Do to a Man’s Brain
Forget Cannabis, The 3 Most Deadly Drugs Are Completely Legal

Post photo: Piotr Marcinski, photographer | iStock Collection | Thinkstock

Read more: Addiction, Conditions, Diet & Nutrition, Drinks, Family, Health, Health & Safety, Healthy Aging, Men's Health, News & Issues, Women's Health, , ,

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

138 comments

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6:04AM PDT on Jul 13, 2014

Thank you :)

10:42AM PDT on Jul 11, 2014

Let's see --

I do my best to keep the average consumption. (and my beer belly) up.

I don't binge drink. I don't drink to get drunk -- I drink quality beverages because I like the taste.

Hefeweisen is as much a food as an alcoholic beverage.

I am already too old to have my life shortened by 30 years. So I don't really give a rat's ass. My drinking is more limited by the number of times I have to get up to use the bathroom at night than by worrying about getting drunk.

I only drink hard liquor if the beer and wine are gone.

I don't drink before 5 pm, unless at a festival or party.

I do most of my drinking at home.

I do not believe the "1 in 10 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 died from excessive alcohol use" statistic. That would have to include electrocution from peeing on electrified third rails (which Mythbusters disproved anyway), murder from jealous husbands, bleeding to death from falling on broken beer bottles, being crushed by runaway beer kegs, and other ridiculous causes. I am an engineer and believe that statistics are mostly worthless without detailed source info.

And last but not least, I apologize to anyone reading this who has a serious alcohol-related health issue.


1:03PM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

Thank you!

2:53PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Thank you for posting.

1:47PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

My previous comment was not finished. So, many people are unbalanced, stressed and feeling worthless but do not know how to find relief from their existential pains. Drinking is an easy and relatively cheap way to be numbed from pains and despair for a while. Drinking, smoking, drugs are just the tip of the iceberg as the real problem lays in the hidden part. That is what the society and government should look at and find a holistic way of dealing with binge drinking. Not repression but comprehension and finding a durable solution. Everybody should feel concerned and should help in being part of the solution.

11:59AM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

I shall not drink alcohol, anyway, I have to take a lot of medicine because of systemical lupus erythematodes, sclerodermy, the Raynaud-syndrom and osteoporosis, anyway, but I also don´t like it! I prefer alcohol free beer or the same as "Radler", that´s beer mixed with citric lemon 1:1, that´s good when you´re thursty an causes no health damage!!! But on New Years Eve I also drink a little glass of prosecco, once in a year is okay, I think...

9:02AM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

to answer Rebecca it does not look like England is calling its huge alcoholism problem "cultural" on the contrary. The cost to society in general, is very high all around. So many people feel so unbalanced, stressed and feeling worthless

8:27AM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Have you seen the anti-smoking commercials? Maybe they should do the same tactics for alcohol.

2:55PM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Why is it when a European country has a lot of drinkers it is called, "cultural", but when it's concerning the US, it's called "alcoholism"?

10:01AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

BTW; -PLEASE don't tell an alcoholic that wine (beer, or whatever) is good for you... PLEASE!

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