How Many People Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol consumption is more common than use of tobacco or any illicit drug, including marijuana. About a quarter of Americans try alcohol before age 18, and more than three-quarters of adults try alcohol by age 25.

Current alcohol use is measured by alcohol use during the past month.

  • 7 million Americans ages 12 and older drink alcohol.
  • 3 million youths ages 12 to 17 drink alcohol.
  • 3 million people ages 12 and older binge drink.
  • 3 million people ages 12 and older drink heavily.
  • 85 percent of adults have used alcohol during their lifetime.

How Many People Experience Alcoholism?

  • Alcohol addiction is the most common type of substance use disorder in the United States. Substance use disorder is the medical term for addiction, and alcohol use disorder is the medical term for alcoholism. The latter condition affects about 5 percent of Americans each year.
  • Alcoholics aren’t defined by how many drinks they have each day. Medical professionals diagnose alcohol addiction with criteria that measure physical and behavioral changes caused by alcohol. Some types of alcoholics drink more than 12 beers each day, and some people who drink that much never develop an alcohol use disorder.

Teen Alcohol Facts and Stats

  • An estimated 11 percent of alcohol that’s consumed in the United States is consumed by people between the ages of 12 and 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although underage drinking is prevalent, fewer teens drink today than in previous decades.
  • “We have seen over the past few years significant decreases in the pattern of alcohol use that runs through all ages,” Dr. Nora Volkow said during a teleconference attended by She said that recent rates of teen binge drinking “are the lowest that we have seen.”

The 2016 Monitoring the Future survey published the following statistics on teen alcohol use:

  • 61 percent of 12th-graders have tried alcohol during their lifetime.
  • 56 percent of 12th-graders drank alcohol in the past year.
  • 33 percent of 12th-graders drank alcohol in the past 30 days.

Beyond The Bell Elevator Speech


Beyond The Bell’s focus is on the health and safety of young people ages 9-20 and their parents.  Beyond The Bell provides LifeSkills training and other programs to ensure youth live happy and safe lives and use the tools we provide to enjoy activities that exclude alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs.   

We use evidence-based strategies to build skills and support the needs of young people and thus reduce barriers to their success.

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