Accessibility, social acceptance, and the nature of the drug itself make alcohol far and away the most oft-abused drug in Colorado. Meanwhile, the mind-boggling toll that alcohol abuse exacts from Colorado and Coloradans continues to mount.
The following list of state-specific facts provides a grim profile regarding the rate at which alcohol is being abused, the age groups most impacted, and profound cost of human suffering and economic waste left in its wake.
Each of the following statistics pertaining to alcohol abuse were released by the Colorado Department of Human Services:
One in every five adults in Colorado drinks alcohol excessively.
Almost one of every five Coloradans over the age of 18 binge drink.
Nearly half of Coloradans ages 18 to 25 reported binge drinking in the past month, at 47.5 percent of the population, compared with 41.4 percent nationwide.
26 percent of 18-24 year olds binge drink; 31 percent of 25-34 year olds binge drink; 24 percent of 35-44 year olds binge drink.
57 percent of high school students believe they could easily obtain alcohol.
In 2016, 17.3 percent of women drank alcohol during their last three months of pregnancy.
In 2016, of the 608 statewide motor vehicle fatalities, 161 were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers.
Alcohol accounts for 63 percent of Coloradans seeking treatment for substance abuse.
In 2010, excessive drinking cost Colorado $5 billion, half of which was paid by state taxpayers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 people in the United States die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 50 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion. In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
Alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities aside, the far-reaching impacts of excessive alcohol use on one’s short-and long-term health are overwhelming and extensively researched. Excessive alcohol use, including underage drinking and binge drinking (drinking five or more drinks on an occasion for men or four or more drinks on an occasion for women), can lead to increased risk of health problems such as injuries, violence, liver diseases, and cancer, according to the CDCP.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are a group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. These effects can include physical problems and problems with behavior and learning. Often, a person with an FASD has a mix of these problems.
The CDCP concludes that alcohol use during pregnancy can result in a litany of infant disorders including but not limited to death, heart, kidney and bone problems, poor memory, hyperactivity, abnormal facial features, vision and hearing problems and a range of learning and intellectual disabilities.
There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time to drink during pregnancy. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, including before a woman knows she’s pregnant. All types of alcohol are equally harmful, including all wines and beer.
Finally, according to the CDCP, underage drinking is unfortunately prevalent, and deadly. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and cost the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010.
The CDCP points out that even though drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90 percent of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. In 2013, there were approximately 119,000 emergency room visits by persons age 12 to 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.