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Social and Economic Harms

The harms associated with alcohol use affects people of all ages. In 2013, the most recent available data, there were approximately 119,000 visits to the emergency department for injury or other conditions related to alcohol use among young adults aged 12 to 21. [USAPA9]   More than 4,300 people under the age of 21 die each year from excessive alcohol use, and costs the U.S. $24 billion per year. [USAPA10]

Alcohol-impaired Driving

In 2016, nearly 10,500 people died in an alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crash, account for more than 25% of all traffic deaths in the U.S. This is one death every 50 minutes, for a total of 29 per day. [USAPA11] Annual data show that 1 in 5 high school students reported having ridden in a car with a driver who had been drinking alcohol in the past year, while nearly 1 in 10 report having driven themselves after drinking alcohol. [USAPA12] Among people between the ages of 21 to 25, 14% reported driving under the influence in 2017, as did 8% of those over the age of 26. [USAPA13] Each year, the U.S. spends more than $44 billion on alcohol-related crashes. [USAPAS14] 

Risky Sexual Behavior

Alcohol use, particularly binge drinking, was associated with unintended pregnancy as well as other risky behavior, including drinking during pregnancy. [USAPA15] Additionally, numerous studies have found an association between alcohol consumption and sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV. [USAPA16]  Research among college students found that drinking alcohol was strongly associated with risky sexual behaviors, including have multiple or casual sexual partners. [USAPA17] 

Financial Costs

Excessive alcohol use cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010, which averages to $2.05 per drink. Binge drinking alone was responsible for $191 billion. [USAPA18] These costs come from health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, losses in workplace productivity, and more.


USAPA9 - Naeger, S. Emergency department visits involving underage alcohol use: 2010 to 2013External. The CBHSQ Report: May 16, 2017. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD; 2017.

USAPA10 - Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 national and state costs of excessive alcohol consumption External. Am J Prev Med. 2015;49(5):e73-79.

 USAPA11 - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2016 data: alcohol-impaired driving. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2017 Available at: Accessed 16 April 2018.

USAPA12 - Kann L, McManus T, Harris WA, et al. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2015. MMWR Surveill Summ 2016;65(No. SS-6):1–174.


USAPA14 - Blincoe LJ, Miller TR, Zaloshnja E, Lawrence BA. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The economic and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes, 2010. (Revised). U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2015. Available at: Accessed 16 April 2018.

USAPA15 - Naimi TS, Lipscomb LE, Brewer RD, Colley BG. Binge drinking in the preconception period and the risk of unintended pregnancy: Implications for women and their childrenExternal. Pediatrics 2003;11(5):1136–1141.

USAPA16 - Wechsler H, Davenport A, Dowdall G, Moeykens B, Castillo S. Health and behavioral consequences of binge drinking in collegeExternal. JAMA 1994;272(21):1672–1677.

USAPA17 - Cooper, M. L. (2002). Alcohol use and risky sexual behavior among college students and youth: evaluating the evidence. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, supplement, (14), 101-117.

USAPA18 - Sacks JJ, Gonzales KR, Bouchery EE, Tomedi LE, Brewer RD. 2010 national and state costs of excessive alcohol consumptionExternal. Am J Prev Med. 2015;49(5):e73–e79.

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