Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are among the most common, devastating, and costly problems in the United States. In fact, recent studies have shown that approximately 53 percent of adults in the United States have reported that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem. Those most vulnerable to problem drinking are young adults between the ages of 18 and 29, while those least susceptible are 65 years of age or older.  These young adults are particularly susceptible to binge drinking (five or more drinks in two hours for men, four or more drinks in two hours for women). In fact, binge drinking accounts for more than half of the alcohol industry’s $155 billion market, and more than 75% of the beer industry’s market. In 2002, U.S. alcoholism statistics showed that 2.6 million binge drinkers were between the ages of 12 and 17.
Sadly, alcoholism and alcohol abuse can lead to dangerous health problems and, in some cases, death. U.S. alcohol statistics, for example, reveal that approximately 50,000 cases of alcohol overdose are reported each year. Moreover, in 2009, an estimated 30.2 million people 12 or older reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 14,406 alcoholic liver disease deaths and 23,199 alcohol-induced deaths (excluding accidents and homicides) in 2007.
Not only is alcoholism dangerous and potentially fatal for alcoholics, it’s also costly to society at large. Recent surveys indicate that non-alcoholic members of families with an alcoholic use ten times as much sick leave as families without alcoholics. Additionally, 80% of these family members report an impaired ability to perform at work as a result of living with an alcohol abuser or alcoholic.  Furthermore, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) are the leading preventable cause of birth defects in the U.S., affecting as many as 40,000 babies per year and costing more than $5.4 billion each year.
Fortunately, help and treatment are available for those suffering from alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Various self-help groups, inpatient treatment centers, and residential treatment centers specialize in the long-term recovery of alcoholics, and millions of Americans have overcome their alcoholism and now lead healthy, balanced lives in sobriety.
 Rogers, J. & Greenfield, T. Beer drinking accounts for most of the hazardous alcohol consumption reported in the United States. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 60(6): 732-739. 1999. Greenfield, T. Consumption and risk patterns: Who buys and who pays? Paper presented at the Winter School US market. Impact.26 (14/15): 7-8, July 15/August 1, 1996. Themba, M. in the Sun, Brisbane, Australia, July 1-4, 1996 (available from the Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 1000 Hearst Ave., Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94709)
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) FASD Center for Excellence, 2003