Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking due to physical and emotional dependence and a preoccupation with alcohol. Those with alcohol use disorder may have problems controlling their drinking, drink alcohol even when it’s problematic, or experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming alcohol. Treatment for alcoholism includes counseling and medications and sometimes medical detoxification to help the individual stop drinking safely.
Alcoholism is a common disorder with more than 3 million cases per year. Americans consume an average of 8.7 liters of pure alcohol per capita annually, the equivalent to 29.0 handles of vodka per person per year. However, consumption varies by state.
Alcohol consumption also varies significantly between countries. The most recent data regarding alcoholism rates in each country is from 2004, which recorded the percentage of males and females 15 years and above with alcohol use disorders.
The ten countries with the highest rates of alcohol use disorders in females are:
- Australia 2.61%
- Russia 2.58%
- Norway 2.55%
- Colombia 2.55%
- Hungary 2.27%
- Sweden 2.27%
- New Zealand 2.20%
- Republic of Moldova 2.15%
- Lithuania 1.98%
- The United States 1.92%
Russia has the highest prevalence of alcohol use disorders overall, with 16.29% of males and 2.58% of females having an alcohol use disorder. In the United States, 5.48% of males and 1.92% of women have an alcohol use disorder.
As far as alcohol consumption, the countries with the heaviest drinkers are:
On average, Belarus citizens consumed 14.4 liters of pure alcohol per year, the equivalent of 49 handles of vodka per person. The United States shies in comparison with 8.7 liters of pure alcohol consumed per year, equivalent to 29 handles of vodka.
Globally, the total volume of alcohol consumed is up 70% from 1999 to 2017. Alcohol consumption increased the most in middle-income and low-income regions, such as China, India, and Vietnam; however, it decreased across Europe, which once had the highest consumption levels. The trend is expected to continue through 2030 when Europe no longer has the highest alcohol consumption rates.