Alcohol stats

Some alcohol use statistics (source:

- 61% of American adults drank alcohol in the last year where stats are available (2004); that means roughly 183 million Americans drank alcohol that year.

- 32% of those had 5 or more drinks on at least one day; that means roughly 59 million Americans abused alcohol at least once in 2004.

- 21,081 alcohol-related deaths were reported in the same year, including all deaths from alcoholic liver disease. That equals 0.035% of all -abusers-, and 0.0115% of all -users-. Converted to deaths per 100,000, that's 11.5 deaths per 100,000 users, and 35 deaths per 100,000 abusers. This, btw, is the worst-case scenario as I will openly admit that some alcohol-related deaths are to people who are victims of others' abuse.

- CDC records also indicate that in the U.S. in 2005, the number of deaths by accident/unintentional causes in the general population was 37.7 per 100,000. Deaths by cancer in the general population in the same year were 185.8 per 100,000. Deaths by heart disease were 217 per 100,000 in the general population.

- To spell that out as clearly as possible, someone who is abusing alcohol has the same likelihood of dying by accident as by alcohol-related circumstances; he is 5 times more likely to die by cancer than by alcohol-related circumstances; he is almost 6 times more likely to die from heart disease than by alcohol-related circumstances.

- The average alcohol user is 3 times more likely to die by accident than through alcohol-related circumstances, 16 times more likely to die from cancer than through alcohol-related circumstances, and almost 20 times more likely to die from heart disease than through alcohol-related circumstances.

- For the record, 59,664 people died from the flu in the same year -- 2.8 times as many as died from alcohol-related circumstances.

Here's what I'm not saying: I'm not saying that any of these deaths are not tragic: they are all tragic and take a toll on real families. What I am actually outlining here is that the moral argument against alcohol use has to take into account that more people die by accident than from alcohol-related circumstances annually; far more people die from the flu than from alcohol-related circumstances.

Let's keep that in mind as we advance toward the discussion of the moral ills of all alcohol abuse.