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Did you know that drinking too much can harm your health? Excessive alcohol use,alcohol awareness image
including underage drinking and binge drinking, can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver disease, and cancer.

Study of Alcohol-Related Deaths Among US Adults

In a 2014 study of alcohol dependence among US adult drinkers, CDC researchers found that from 2006 through 2010, excessive alcohol consumption accounted for nearly 1 in 10 deaths among working-age US adults aged 20-64. The study, published in CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease, also revealed that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year during this period, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.

Infographic: What is excessive alcohol use? Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, understage drinking, pregnant drinking and heaving drinking. For men, binge drinking is 4 or more drinks consumed on one occasion. For women, binge drinking is 4 or more drinks consumed on one ocasion. One occasion equals 2-3 hours. Any alcohol use by those under age 21. Any alcohol use by pregnant women. For women, heavy drinking is 8 drinks or more per week. For men, heavy drinking is 15 drinks or more per week.

Alcohol Use Explained - Download Full Infographic [5.3 MB]

These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease, and health effects from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes.

Study of Alcohol Dependence Among US Adults

In another study published in CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers found that 9 in 10 people who drink excessively are not alcohol dependent. Alcohol dependence is a chronic medical condition that includes a current or past history of excessive drinking, a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite repeated problems with drinking, and an inability to control alcohol consumption.

The study found that nearly 1 in 3 adults are excessive drinkers, and most of them binge drink, usually on multiple occasions. In contrast, about 1 in 30 adults are classified as alcohol dependent. Rates of alcohol dependence increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. For instance, about 10% of binge drinkers are alcohol dependent, while 30% of people who binge frequently (10 or more times a month) are alcohol dependent.

What Can be Done

Alcohol dependence is a serious medical problem, and it is important to assure that high-quality treatment for this condition is available to those who need it. However, most excessive drinkers are not alcohol dependent; therefore, it is also important to implement effective community and clinical prevention strategies for excessive drinking−such as increasing the price of alcohol, reducing alcohol availability, and screening and counseling for excessive drinking among all adults in primary care. A comprehensive approach to reducing excessive drinking that includes evidence-based community strategiesscreening and counseling for excessive drinking among adults in healthcare settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it is likely to have the greatest impact on reducing excessive drinking and related harms.

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