In this article you will learn how alcohol impacts the individual, family and society. Read about its role in domestic violence, college campus assaults, and its cost to the nation and workplace.

People around the world consume many types of alcohol in various cultural settings. Drinking on occasion with friends, relatives and co-workers can be an enjoyable way to celebrate events and socialize, however, for too many people, this activity becomes excessive and reckless.

Brief History of Alcohol

There is evidence that humans drank alcohol in China as early as 7000 B.C., Babylonians worshiped a wine goddess around 2700 B.C. and Ancient Greek literature warned against excessive drinking.1 Of course, many Roman emperors and their consorts gained infamy for heavy drinking and other decadent behaviors.

Social Effects of Alcohol on the Family

Although many people drink because they believe it will make them feel better about themselves, drinking excessively can negatively impact a person’s personality.

Negative impact of alcohol abuse on couples:

  • Significant others of alcoholics are often subjected to alcohol-related abuse, such as verbal, emotional and physical abuse.
  • Couples may exhibit mutually violent behaviors toward each other during alcohol use.
  • Research indicates that marriages in which only one spouse drinks heavily end in divorce 50% of the time.12

Negative impact of alcohol abuse on children:

  • Studies are inconclusive, showing data that indicates anywhere between 12% and 70% of adults who abuse children are alcoholics.6
  • Children of alcoholics often have deep-seated psychological and emotional problems due to many factors present when growing up with an addicted parent, such as:
    • Lack of rules at times and strict rules, inconsistency
    • Feeling like they are responsible for themselves
    • Dealing with heightened levels of stress and tension
    • Depression, guilt and feeling of hopelessness
  • Children of substance abusers are 3-4 times more likely than peers to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs.7
  • Children of alcoholics are at higher risk for developing an array of emotional problems including mistrust, guilt, shame, confusion, ambivalence, fear and insecurities.

Alcohol and Partner Violence

Anger and problematic alcohol use have been established as individual risk factors for intimate partner violence, victimization and perpetration.

The Research: A large study on 215 heterosexual couples in the Midwest and Southeast U.S. was conducted to analyze mutually violent behavioral patterns. Participants were required to be healthy overall without major medical problems or a psychiatric diagnosis, and could not be in active treatment for a psychological or relationship-related issue. In addition, at least one of the two had to consume an average of at least five (for men) or four (for women) standard drinks per occasion at least twice a month in the past year.

The Results: No mean differences were observed across gender for trait anger or physical intimate partner violence. However, substantial differences were observed across gender for partner violence, victimization and problematic alcohol use. Women showed a slightly higher trait of anger during episodes of excessive drinking, while men experienced a higher rate of victimization. Men also reported more problematic drinking. In addition, the results of this study suggest that anger and problematic drinking patterns play different yet important roles for men and women in mutually violent relationships.

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Effects of Alcoholism on Society at Large

The damaging effects of alcohol abuse are not limited to the person who drinks nor to those closest to them. Alcohol abuse is linked to many social ills including:

  • Sexual assaults against acquaintances.
  • Drunk driving accidents that result in strangers losing their lives.
  • A large financial toll on our nation, with the cost of excessive alcohol use reaching $249 billion in 2010, or about $2.05 per drink.
  • A significant loss in workplace productivity (72% of the total financial cost to nation).
  • Other societal financial costs included healthcare expenses for treating problems caused by excessive drinking (11%), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses (10%) and motor vehicle crashes related to excessive alcohol use (5%).9
  • 9,967 alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in 2014, which accounted for 31% of all driving fatalities.5

About 17.6 million adults in the U.S. currently suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Several million more people engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that can lead to alcohol problems.

Alcohol’s Impact on College Campuses

Sexual assaults related to alcohol on college campuses have garnered media coverage and heightened public awareness. Every year, an estimated 696,000 students ages 18-24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking and 97,000 students ages 18-24 experience alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.5

The campus rape case involving Brock Turner from Stanford University is one example that illustrates the types of situations some college students face. Here are the details:

  • Brock Turner, a Stanford University swimmer (now former student) sexually assaulted an unconscious woman after they were both participating in heavy drinking at a frat party.
  • Brock admitted to drinking and his victim was so inebriated from alcohol that she fell unconscious.
  • Court documents obtained by CNN shed light on the disturbing assault and Turner’s history of alcohol abuse and sexually aggressive behavior.10
  • As of December 2017, Brock is appealing his sexual assault conviction on the grounds that he did not receive a fair trial.11

Alcohol Statistics

  • About 17.6 million adults in the U.S. currently suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Several million more people engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that can lead to alcohol problems.2
  • Nearly 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year in the U.S.3
  • As many as one-third of adults in the U.S. have alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives, but only about 20% receive treatment.4
  • In 2014, an estimated 679,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had an alcohol use disorder.5
  • About 20% of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.5
  • Every year, about 1,825 students ages 18-24 incur fatal alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.5
  • About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall.5

The social repercussions of alcohol are far reaching and often tragic. If you or somebody you know needs an alcohol detox program, call our recovery advisors today at 1.713.528.3709.

About 17.6 million adults in the U.S. currently suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Several million more people engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that can lead to alcohol problems.


  1. Alcohol: A Short History. Foundation for a Drug-Free World website. Accessed July 29 2016.
  2. Facts About Alcohol. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence website Updated July 25, 2015. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  3. Stahre, M, Roeber, J, Kanny, D, et al. Contribution of excessive alcohol consumption to deaths and years of potential life lost in the United States. Preventing Chronic Disease. 11:E109, 2014.
  4. 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives. National Institutes for Health website. Published November 18, 2015. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  5. Alcohol Facts and Statistics. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website.  Published January 2016. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  6. Effects of Parental Substance Abuse on Children and Families. American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress website. Accessed July 21, 2016.
  7. Children of Addicted Parents: Important Facts. National Association for Children of Alcoholics website. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  8. Sprunger JG, Eckhardt CI, Parrott DJ. Anger, problematic alcohol use, and intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration. Crim Behav Ment Health. 2015 Dec 10;25(4):273-86. doi: 10.1002/cbm.1976.
  9. Excessive Drinking is Draining the U.S. Economy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Updated January 12, 2016. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  10. Stanford rape case: Inside the court documents. CNN website. Updated June 11, 2016. Accessed July 29, 2016.
  11. Brock Turner Is Appealing His Sexual Assault Conviction. New York Times website. December 2, 2017.
  12. Caba, Justin. Heavy Drinking Will Lead To Divorce, Unless Both Partners Are Equally Alcoholic, Medical Daily. Nov 25, 2013