1. Introduction - How many people are affected by alcohol?
Half a pint of beer on bar table
About 2 billion people worldwide consume alcoholic drinks,
which can have immediate and long term consequences on health
and social life. Over 76 million people are currently affected
by alcohol use disorders,
such as alcohol dependence
and abuse. Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and the
pattern of drinking, alcohol consumption can lead to
drunkenness and alcohol
dependence. It can result
in disablement or death from accidents or contribute to
depression and suicide.
Moreover, it can cause
chronic illnesses such as
cancer and liver disease in
those who drink heavily for
Alcohol causes 1.8
million deaths a year, which represents 3.2% of all deaths
worldwide. Unintenional injuries account for about a third of
the deaths from alcohol. Alcohol is the third most common cause
of death in developed countries. In the limited number of
developing countries where overall
mortality is low, alcohol
is the leading cause of illness and disease.
Damage to human life is often described in terms of loss of
“disability-adjusted life years”
(DALYs). This measure takes
into account the number of years lost due to premature deaths as
well as the years spent living with disability.
Worldwide, alcohol causes
a loss of 58.3 million
DALYs annually, which
represents 4% of the total loss of DALYs from all causes. Mental
disorders and diseases of the
nervous system account for
about 40% of DALYs lost because of alcohol.
Drinking patterns vary greatly from country to country and so
do health impacts and policy responses.
For country specific information, see the Global Alcohol Database:
This text is a summary of:
Global Status Report on Alcohol