More than 2,200 people die from alcohol poisoning each year in the U.S. an average of six deaths each day according to a new Vital Signs report from the CDC.
Alcohol poisoning deaths are a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers of excessive alcohol use, which is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, PhD, said in the release. We need to implement effective programs and policies to prevent binge drinking and the many health and social harms that are related to it, including deaths from alcohol poisoning.
The CDC analyzed deaths from alcohol poisoning among people age 15 years and older, using multiple cause-of-death data from the National Vital Statistics System for 2010-2012.
Three in four alcohol poisoning deaths involve adults ages 35-64 years, and most deaths occur among men and non-Hispanic whites. American Indians/Alaska Natives have the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people.
According to a CDC news release, more than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking an average of four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on an occasion.
The states with the highest death rates were in the Great Plains, western U.S., and New England. The death rates varied widely across states, from 46.5 deaths per million residents in Alaska to 5.3 per million residents in Alabama, according to the release.
Alcohol dependence was identified as a contributing factor in 30% of these deaths, and other drugs were noted to have been a factor in about 3% of the deaths. This study shows that alcohol poisoning deaths are not just a problem among young people, CDC Alcohol Program Lead and report coauthor Robert Brewer, MD, MSPH, said in the release. It also emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to reducing binge drinking that includes evidence-based community strategies, screening and counseling in healthcare settings, and high-quality substance abuse treatment for those who need it.