Alcohol significantly impacts health. Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths every year, representing 5.9% of all deaths, and that alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions. Overall 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life, and there are gender differences in alcohol-related mortality, morbidity, as well as levels and patterns of alcohol consumption.

The impact of alcohol consumption on health outcomes in populations is largely determined by two separate but related dimensions of drinking: 1) the total volume of alcohol consumed; and 2) the pattern of drinking. In addition, there is evidence that a nation's alcohol consumption directly impacts on the health of its citizens.