Alcohol use is a well-known risk factor for certain conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, fetal alcohol syndrome, and injuries related to drunk driving. Alcohol consumption can also contribute to chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Interpersonal violence, self-harm (suicide), and unintentional injuries can also be fueled by alcohol.
Globally, alcohol use is a major risk factor for death and disability overall, ranked among dietary risks, high blood pressure, smoking, and household air pollution. In some countries, alcohol use is the number-one risk factor for men.
IHME has estimated trends in drinking for every US county. While the proportion of Americans who drink any alcohol has remained steady at slightly over half, rates of binge drinking increased between 2002 and 2012, a pattern driven largely by women. These county-level findings can be explored using IHME’s US Health Map data visualization tool. Binge drinking is commonly associated with a higher risk for serious bodily harm, such as alcohol poisoning and acute organ damage. Heavy drinking is considered a risk factor for longer-term conditions, such as liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease.