According to Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director Dr. George F. Koob, "Alcohol is not a benign substance and there are many ways it can contribute to mortality. The current findings suggest that alcohol-related deaths involving injuries, overdoses, and chronic diseases are increasing across a wide swath of the population. The report is a wakeup call to the growing threat alcohol poses to public health."

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH):

  • an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually

  • alcohol is the third leading preventable case of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, followed by poor diet and physical inactivity. 

  • alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths in the United States in 2014

  • alcohol contributed to more than 200 diseases and injury-related health conditions around the world including alcohol dependency, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries.

  • alcohol use is the leading cause of death in persons 20-39 years of age (globally) 

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. AUD can range from mild to severe, and recovery is possible.


In the past, the American Psychiatric Association described two distinct disorders - alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, however, now alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence are classified into a single disorder called alcohol use disorder (AUD) with subclassifications of mild, moderate, and severe.

In 2010, alcohol use cost the United States $249 billion. Three-fourths of the total cost of alcohol use was related to binge drinking. 

Data gathered from U.S. death certificates researched at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, found that nearly one million people died from alcohol-related causes between 1999 and 2017, the year that alcohol was a factor in 2.6% of all deaths in the United States. 

In a study of U.S. death certificates from 1999 to 2017 that listed alcohol as a contributing factor, researchers found nearly half of the deaths resulted from liver disease or alcohol overdose. People in the age range of 45-74 had the highest rates of deaths related to alcohol, however, the biggest increase was among people age 25-34. Researchers called this "deaths of despair," defined as deaths related to overdoses, alcohol-associated liver cirrhosis, and suicides. 

Alcohol consumption is increasing among women despite increasing evidence that even one drink per day of alcohol can contribute to an increase risk of breast cancer for women. 

Researchers noted that studies have shown the role of alcohol in deaths is vastly underreported. Since these studies examined death certificates only, the actual number of alcohol-related deaths in 2017 be much larger then the 72,558 reported.