Deaths from Excessive Alcohol Use in the United States

Competition from lower-wage workers abroad, the introduction of labor-saving technologies at home, and decreased demand for products and services (e.g., tobacco, domestic steel) have lowered the demand for high-wage blue collar jobs (Brown and Schafft, 2018; Lichter and Schafft, 2016). The declines in employment opportunities and job quality led to an outmigration of the “best and brightest” young adults from those communities seeking opportunities elsewhere (Burton et al., 2013; Carr and Kefalas, 2009; Peters, 2012; Slack, 2014). Once-vibrant communities were then left with a disproportionate share of low-wage, low-skill, and often less healthy (or disabled) workers who found themselves with limited opportunities in the midst of closed plants and mines and empty retail establishments. The end result has been to intensify the disproportionate geographic clustering of multigenerational economic distress in many parts of the United States. The high cost of psychiatric care and the related costs of mental health care insurance are important barriers to access to mental health care, resulting in substantial treatment deficiencies and high rates of unmet need (Rowan, McAlpine, and Blewett, 2013; Walker et al., 2015). A significant proportion of Americans also lack geographic access to psychiatric and other mental health services, and many U.S. counties have no psychiatric services at all (Byers et al., 2017; Kakuma et al., 2011).

  • Geronimus and colleagues (2019) examined years of life lost by sex and education among Whites and Blacks ages 25–84 from 1990 to 2015.
  • In state- and county-level analyses, prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl were found to be differentially implicated in overdoses across different parts of the United States.
  • And when people drink at home, she noted, there’s no bartender monitoring the size of the drink — “you have less ability to regulate how much is going into the glass,” she said — and drinking is much less expensive.
  • Despite these similarities, there are also important differences in drug mortality and alcohol-induced mortality trends.
  • Death certificates include one underlying cause of death (UCD)—the cause the certifier has determined led directly to the death—and up to 20 contributing causes (i.e., MCDs).

In 2020, Purdue reached an $8.3 billion settlement with the U.S. government and agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that it enabled the supply of opioids “without legitimate medical purpose,” conspired to defraud the United States, and violated antikickback laws in its distribution of opioids. Kickbacks included payment to health care companies and physicians to encourage opioid prescribing (Sherman, 2020). From 1996 to 2002, Purdue provided funding for more than 20,000 educational campaigns promoting the use of opioids for chronic pain in patients without cancer (a group for which opioids were generally not indicated).

What is moderate drinking?

Mortality from drug poisoning began to increase in the early 1990s, but these increases accelerated between the late 1990s and mid-2000s and then surged in the 2010s (Figure 7-1). Although these trends were seen among all racial/ethnic groups, their exact timing and pattern varied by sex, age, and race and ethnicity, suggesting that not all working-age adults were equally impacted by each phase. For women, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks in the span of 2 hours.

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths

State licensing and monitoring boards also contributed to opioid overprescribing. In states that monitored physicians’ prescribing of opioids and other Schedule II drugs, deaths due to drug poisoning were lower. Alpert and colleagues (2019) argue that Purdue viewed as a barrier to entry state requirements that physicians prescribe opioids on triplicate forms that could be used to monitor possible fraud and overprescribing. They show that OxyContin distribution was 2.5 times greater in states without versus those with this requirement, and that as a result, drug overdose deaths increased more rapidly in the former compared with the latter states.

Vital Signs: Alcohol Poisoning Deaths — United States, 2010–2012

Psychological distress and health behaviors were among the most important correlates of these trends. That may have contributed to deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, which accounts for about one-third of alcohol-related deaths, Dr. Kelly said. Other major causes are drug poisoning, which occurs when alcohol is involved in a drug overdose death, and alcohol-related mental and behavioral disorders. First, alcohol-attributable how does alcoholism kill you deaths, including alcohol poisoning, are underreported (16–18). Second, this study was restricted to deaths in which alcohol poisoning was the underlying cause of death, and did not include deaths in which alcohol poisoning was a contributing cause of death. A previous study found that there were three times as many deaths in which alcohol poisoning was a contributing, rather than underlying cause of death (19).

  • Many patients store unused prescriptions improperly, often leaving them in unlocked locations such as medicine cabinets, cupboards, and wardrobes (Bicket et al., 2017; Neuman, Bateman, and Wunsch, 2019).
  • These trends may explain in part the geographic patterns in drug poisoning mortality discussed in Chapter 4, as well as those affecting other health outcomes discussed later in this report.
  • The results in this report indicate that during 2010–2012 there was an average of six deaths from alcohol poisoning each day among persons aged ≥15 years in the United States.
  • As noted earlier in this chapter, drug poisoning mortality rates have risen in metro and nonmetro areas alike and across all racial/ethnic groups (to varying degrees) since the early 1990s.

Among adults younger than 65, alcohol-related deaths actually outnumbered deaths from Covid-19 in 2020; some 74,408 Americans ages 16 to 64 died of alcohol-related causes, while 74,075 individuals under 65 died of Covid. And the rate of increase for alcohol-related deaths in 2020 — 25 percent — outpaced the rate of increase of deaths from all causes, which was 16.6 percent. Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21. The liver breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a toxic substance that scars and inflames the liver. This chemical also interferes with the liver’s ability to break down and metabolize fats. This causes that fat to accumulate and may lead to fatty liver — an early stage of alcohol-related liver disease.

pioids, Other Drugs, and Alcohol

Vital measures include heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen level, temperature, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and indicate how far from baseline a person may be. The goal is to give supportive care, which could include things like giving fluids through an IV to prevent dehydration. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for intoxication is 0.08% or greater, per the NIAAA. With alcohol poisoning, there is no definitive number because intoxication levels can vary greatly from person to person. Generally, a BAC of 0.08% to 0.4% is considered “very impaired,” possibly setting off symptoms like confusion, nausea, drowsiness, and difficulty speaking or walking, according to the U.S.

  • If a friend appears to be drinking too much too fast, try to intervene and limit how much more they have.
  • Census bridged-race population for 2010–2012 as the denominator, and were age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S.
  • Assuming that the main cohort of drinkers during the peak consumption period (mid-1970s to early 1980s) were ages 20–40, most of them would have been ages 35–55 at the start of the study period (1990).
  • Alcohol toxicity causes the body’s communication system to slow, which can also slow down other vital functions like breathing.
  • All of this is to say that, alcohol poisoning, also known as alcohol toxicity, is not something to mess around with, so we spoke with experts about how to enjoy booze safely—and what to do if you or a loved one has seemingly passed the point of no return.
  • Women’s bodies typically have less fluid to dilute alcohol, which can result in higher blood-alcohol concentrations, which may make women more vulnerable to health complications, according to Karaye.
  • Cirrhosis occurs when alcohol so thoroughly scars the liver that the liver suffers organ failure.