April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Each April, we mark Alcohol Awareness Month to raise awareness of one of the most deadly health problems in the US, Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

Alcohol is the most frequently used and abused substance in the U.S. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 50% of women and nearly 60% of men report drinking alcohol in the past year. Over one-quarter of those 18 or older reported binge drinking in the past month. Children, teens, and adults are at risk for Alcohol Use Disorder, or AUD. But treatment is available and recovery is possible.

lethal mix alcohol and opiods

What is Binge Drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings BAC levels to 0.08 g/dL or higher. This typically occurs after a woman consumes 4 drinks or a man consumes 5 drinks—in about 2 hours.

Binge drinking puts you at risk of short- and long-term health problems. These problems include hangovers, injuries, overdoses, alcohol use disorder, heart and liver disease, and cancer.

Almost 40% of all deaths related to alcohol use are due to binge drinking.

Being alcohol impaired can lead to significant lapses in judgment and decreased impulse control and coordination—all of which increase the likelihood of getting hurt.

Binge drinking can also lead to poor decision-making and regret. It can result in a range of physical and social consequences including violence, sexually transmitted infections or HIV, and sexual risk behaviors.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Ten Fast Facts About Alcohol

Did you know that…
  1. 75% of esophageal cancers are attributable to chronic excessive alcohol consumption.
  2. Nearly 50% of cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx are associated with heavy drinking
  3. Chronic alcohol consumption is associated with 10% increase in a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
  4. Heavy chronic drinking contributes to approximately 65% of all cases of pancreatitis.
  5. Among emergency room patients admitted for injuries, 47% tested positive for alcohol and 35% were intoxicated; of those who were intoxicated, 75% showed signs of chronic alcoholism.
  6. There are more deaths and disabilities each year in the U.S. from substance abuse than from any other cause.
  7. As many as 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis.
  8. As many as 36% of the cases of primary liver cancer are linked to heavy chronic drinking.
  9. Alcoholics are 10 times more likely to develop carcinoma than the general population.
  10. Accidents related to alcohol use are among the leading causes of death for teens.

Source: Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

statistics on co-occuring disorders

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Body?

1Alcohol can affect the normal functions of the cells in your body, causing them to grow out of control into a cancer tumor. Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting at least six different types of cancer—mouth and throat, voice box (larynx), esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, and breast in women.

2The risk of cancer increases with the number of drinks consumed, and even one drink a day increases the risk of developing some cancers. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that if you drink alcohol at all, drink in moderation (up to 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men). Some people shouldn’t drink alcohol at all, including people younger than age 21, women who are or might be pregnant, and people on certain medications.

3Although consuming even one drink a day increases your cancer risk, binge drinking is particularly risky. Binge drinking is consuming four drinks or more for women and five drinks or more for men on a single occasion. One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. Binge drinking puts people at risk for many short- and long-term outcomes in addition to cancer, such as injuries, violence, and stroke.

4All types of alcoholic drinks, including red and white wine, beer, cocktails, and liquor, are linked with cancer.


5Some people may not realize how much alcohol they are drinking. So, what is “a drink”? A standard drink is equal to 14 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. That is:

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (such as gin, rum, vodka, whiskey).

Rethink your drink. Reducing your alcohol use can lower your risk for cancer.

You can find this and other information at CDC.gov.


chart showing effects and symptoms of alcohol use disorder