April 13, 2019—No matter how you feel about alcohol, knowledge is power when it comes to avoiding its potentially serious consequences. For starters, check out these facts from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
1. It's the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S. About 1 in every 12 adults struggles with alcohol use disorder. Millions more engage in risky drinking.
2. Dangerous drinking does real damage. Consider a few stats about alcohol's extreme impacts:
3. Alcohol use disorder contributes to diseases. For instance, heavy drinking or binge drinking (drinking a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time) can increase the risk of:
4. Alcohol use disorder has little to do with what you drink. Whether a person is dependent on beer, wine or liquor, they have an uncontrollable need for alcohol—a need that can feel as strong as a craving for food or water.
5. It's linked to breast cancer. Many alcohol-related health effects are tied to excessive drinking. But studies show that just one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer in women.
Know the warning signs
Could you be at risk for or already have a drinking problem? The following can help you find out. For example, you could have a drinking problem if, in the past year, you:
Ask for help
If you're concerned about your alcohol use—and you want to make a change—you don't have to go it alone. Ask your friends and family to support your decision. Your doctor can help you too.
Addressing a drinking problem early can help it from getting much worse. But people who have alcohol use disorder can recover with treatment and support too.