Alcoholism Statistics: What Defines an Alcoholic?

An AlcoholicWhat defines an alcoholic?  Is it a person who drinks every weekend?  What about the woman who drinks a glass of wine with dinner every night?  Or, the father who has just a few drinks on his way home from work?  Are these people alcoholics because they regularly drink, even though in controlled amounts?   Fortunately, after decades of research, several guidelines can help determine whether someone is an alcoholic.

How to Determine if Someone is an Alcoholic

Generally speaking, drinking alcohol at social functions is an accepted social norm in the United States today.  But, how do we go from being social drinkers to being full-fledged alcoholics?

Although each person responds to alcohol differently, there are some common characteristics to look for when you suspect someone is drinking too much too often.  For instance, signs of alcoholism are evident when the person behaves as follows:

  • Feels guilty about their drinking
  • Lies about the amount of alcohol consumed
  • Claims they need to drink to relax
  • Repeatedly drinks more than intended
  • Has blackouts while drinking, or afterward
  • Stays out later than usual at night
  • Prefers social isolation
  • Lacks interest in personal hygiene
  • Loses their job or flunks out of school
  • Suffers a series of health problems
  • Gets in trouble with the law (DUI, public drunkenness, etc.)
  • Displays unpredictable episodes of violence
  • Fails at maintaining healthy relationships

Of course, many other examples indicate the presence of alcoholism.  However, a person does not need to display all of these behaviors to be classified as an alcoholic.

How Prevalent is Alcoholism Today?

If you’ve ever walked into a liquor store and found yourself shocked by the vast amount of alcohol lining the shelves, then you are not likely to be surprised by the statistics below.  Imagine that liquor store multiplied thousands of times.  That’s a lot of alcohol for someone to consume.  In fact, Americans are pretty good at consuming a lot of alcohol.  For example, SAMHSA reports that Americans consumed the following in one year alone:

  • Over 65.5 billion beers
  • More than 13.7 billion glasses of wine
  • Almost 30.0 billion drinks of distilled spirits

The report also includes the following information:

  • Roughly $19.9 billion spent on liquor each year in the US
  • Combined beer, wine, and liquor sales total over $162 billion a year
  • Beer makes up 53% of the total alcoholic beverages consumed
  • Wine accounts for approximately 16% of alcohol consumed

According to these statistics, it would seem that a lot of people are having fun.  Unfortunately, a large percentage of the people who purchase these products are severe alcoholics.  They drink a lot, but they aren’t having any fun.  Most of them are drinking because they can’t deal with the withdrawal symptoms that occur if they try to stop drinking.

Where to Find Help for Alcoholism

Many people are in denial about the extent of their alcohol problem.  You probably know someone who insists that they can stop drinking anytime they choose.  Or, maybe you think you are in control of your drinking habits.  The real test comes when you finally decide to quit and find that you keep relapsing.  When that happens, your best option is to seek professional treatment in an inpatient rehab facility.

Inpatient rehab is recommended because they provide a controlled environment attended by well-trained, compassionate staff and counselors.  In this setting, you can relax and focus on your recovery without being tempted by alcohol in your face everywhere you turn.

If you have gotten past the denial about your drinking, or being an alcoholic, and are ready to enter treatment, call our toll-free number today.  The sooner you begin treatment, the easier it will be to succeed.   Don’t keep being one of those alcoholic statistics above.  Take back your life today.

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