Each day, at dinner tables and social functions across the country, millions of adults enjoy alcohol responsibly. Moderate drinking — defined as two standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink for women — carries relatively little risk, and may even have some health benefits. However, beyond this threshold, alcohol can only be detrimental.
Excessive drinking — along with tobacco use, inadequate exercise, and poor nutrition — is one of four main risk factors for preventable disease identified by the CDC. In addition to short-term consequences, such as impaired judgement and motor skills, excessive alcohol consumption is associated with liver disease, certain cancers, increased risk of a heart attack or stroke, and poor mental health. Here is a look at 23 ways a drinking habit can harm you.
Each year, alcohol misuse is directly linked to diseases and accidents that kill an estimated 95,000 Americans. Excessive drinking also costs the economy hundreds of billions of dollars annually, mostly in lost productivity.
Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 24/7 Tempo identified the county or county equivalent with the highest excessive drinking rate in each state.
Excessive drinking can be either binge drinking or heavy drinking. CHR defines binge drinking as consumption of more than four drinks in a single occasion for women and more than five drinks for men. Heavy drinking is defined as more than one drink a day on average for women and more than two drinks a day for men.
Though each of the counties on this list has the highest excessive drinking rate in its respective state, the share of adults who report excessive drinking in these areas varies considerably — from as low as 16.6% to over 30%. Nationwide, the excessive drinking rate is 19.2%
It is important to note that alcohol affects everyone differently, and as a general rule, drinking less is better than drinking more. Additionally, the vast majority of Americans who drink excessively — about 90% of them — do not have a severe alcohol use disorder, a chronic disease commonly referred to as alcoholism.