Alcohol Poisoning Kills 6 Americans a Day

Time Magazine UK ran an interesting report earlier this month looking at deaths in the US caused by alcohol poisoning with findings that 6 people were being killed a day.

Here’s the full article:

CDC says alcohol poisoning deaths are a greater problem than previously thought

America has a drinking problem, with 2,200 people dying each year from alcohol poisoning. That’s an average of six alcohol-related deaths a day, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report says.

Alcohol poisoning happens when people drink an excessive amount of alcohol in a short amount of time, causing high levels of alcohol in the body to interfere with and even shutdown parts of the brain that are critical for controlling vitals like heart rate, body temperature, and breathing. Eventually, that can lead to death.

Over 38 million Americans binge drink an average of four times a month, and consume an average of eight drinks per binge, according to the new CDC Vital Signs report. Interestingly, the report shows that the majority of alcohol poisoning deaths happen in adults between the ages of 35 and 64, and 76% of those who die are men, revealing binge drinking is not a behavior solely observed among young people. The CDC reports that while the most deaths occur among non-Hispanic whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the most deaths per million people. The death rates also vary widely state to state. For example, alcohol poisoning deaths in Alaska add up to 46.5 deaths per million residents, and in Alabama it’s 5.3 per million residents.

The CDC says the report shows alcohol poisoning deaths are a greater problem than previously believed, and that the numbers are likely an underestimate since alcohol-related deaths are known to be under-reported. Alcoholism was a factor in 30% of the deaths and other drug use was a factor in only 3%.

β€œAlcohol 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 said in a statement.

In response, the CDC is calling for more members of the medical community to screen and talk to their patients about alcohol, since numbers show only one in six U.S. adults has reported ever talked about their drinking with a health professional. States with stronger alcohol policies also have less binge drinking, and should partner with community workers including police and health workers for better programs, CDC says.

I find that figure quite shocking myself and would be interested to hear what my sober American friends think in the comments.

26 thoughts on “Alcohol Poisoning Kills 6 Americans a Day

    1. Not going to happen feeling. The industry doesn’t want it grouped with drugs so the war is about keeping the message that it is killing us out of the media πŸ™

      1. That’s all we can do feeling – be a one-man personal role-model roadshow πŸ˜‰

  1. Morning Lucy, you’re right on the money. Thanks for this post!
    It’s this medically based information you provide which has helped me get sober and continues to help me stay sober for life. I feel like I found out a secret no one knows about that was right in front of our eyes. It is amazing how normal it is to drink poison, worldwide. And here we go in New Orleans, into the Mardi Gras season. . . always a stunning spectacle of drunks. Ugh.
    So glad to see something coming from the U.S. in the news.
    Hugs!

    1. You’re welcome -L πŸ™‚ You know hearing you say Mardi Gras and New Orleans triggered a second of wistfulness from me but you’re right it is probably an unholy drinking mess!! I try to pick up on the US news front and will focus more on it for y’all, my lovely sober American friends πŸ˜‰

  2. I’m not shocked by these numbers at all, and it’s a miracle/twist of fate/dumb luck (whatever one would like to call it πŸ˜‰ ) that I didn’t end up being one of the 6 per day. I truly don’t know how much I was drinking, I just know that the weekends, or any time off from work, were a sloshed mess. I drank during the week, too, heavily. It’s strange, we have a lot of emphasis on health, wellness, working out, but alcohol abuse is left out of the equation. Echoing -L, I appreciate your hard work regarding this issue πŸ™‚ xx

      1. Ha Ha “Stag Parties” and “Hen Nights”…thanks for sharing that history snippet πŸ˜‰

      2. You’re welcome Lori – I’ve had a good few nights out on Temple Bar so others have told me! πŸ˜‰

  3. Yes I saw this article posted on Facebook. Sad and scary. There were a couple of times I feel like I could have been one of the statistics. Thing that scares me the most is having my kids grow up and knowing how common this is. That one uneducated mistake and night of heavy drinking can lead to death.

  4. In America’s population of 300 million, approximately 2.5 million total people die each year. The CDC says that 2,200 of them, or 0.088%, die from acute alcohol poisoning. In the scheme of things, it’s shitty, but it’s not a common way to go at all. Statistically, it’s about the same chance as dying from choking, fire, or drowning, and you’re ten times more likely to die from falling in your own home.

    A huge percentage of those alcohol deaths, however, happen to Native people, who account for only 1% of the total American population, but 7% of alcohol poisoning deaths. It’s a sad fact that alcohol abuse is rampant among Natives, due to both physiological differences in how they process alcohol and the extreme physical and psychological poverty rampant on many Native reservations.

    1. Could you point me to the research evidence for the Native American statistical skew that you quote SC?

      1. Sure thing. Just real quick – you probably know this already – the population I’m referring to as “Native” may also go by the terms Indian, American Indian, Native American, Indigenous American, Alaska Native, First Nations, etc. You’ll see it a bunch of different ways depending on who’s writing the document.

        Here’s a link to US Census data that shows the “American Indian/Alaska Native” population at 1.2 percent of the total population, which I rounded to 1%.
        However, some regions, like Alaska, have a higher percent of indigenous people in the total population than others.
        http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

        Here’s a link from the CDC to the data mentioned in the original article.
        http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6353a2.htm?s_cid=mm6353a2_w

        If you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll find the data tables. “American Indian/Alaska Native” make up 6.9% of the deaths in the study, which I rounded to 7%.

        Hope this helps!

      2. Thanks SC! Didn’t drill down in the CDC data so thank you for summarising for me πŸ™‚ Wow that does skew things. I’m hoping something’s being done to help them tackle this issue …..

      3. It’s a hard one to tackle. For a long time, Indian reservations were pretty bleak places. Lots of hopelessness, violence, and unemployment, coupled with a government in Washington whose Indian policies ran the gamut from genocide to forced assimilation to neglect.

        It was a situation where many people escaped into substance abuse. Some of that is changing now – gaming is allowed on many reservations, bringing employment, and the proceeds are funding education, housing, and other improvements.

        But there’s also a physiological problem. Native people generally lack the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase that helps break down alcohol. Therefore, a huge percent of their drink goes straight to their bloodstream for a big “hit,” and that, combined with the despair endemic on many reservations, makes it easy for them to get hooked. Lots of reservations are dry, but it’s easy enough to drive off the rez to buy alcohol, and many do.

      4. Thanks SC for such a thorough and thoughtful answer to my question. So sad …..

  5. I was going to be a different statistic, not from binge drinking but from slowly, nightly poisoning myself. I kinda see where SC is coming from, your Alaska figures show a much higher death rate than say Alabama. But it’s so sad that even 1 die from something we don’t have to have or need to consume. It’s a f..king awful habit to start and harder to stop than say smoking. My adult children seem to be much more responsible than I was and rarely imbibe. Let’s pray the trend is changing. Everywhere.

  6. Dear Lucy,
    My brother sent this to me. I was not surprised, considering what I have read and seen.
    I think it’s sad. I was a binger, too. Having passed out several times from drinking too much, I count myself lucky that I didn’t die.

    1. Untipsy I’m glad that nothing fatal happened to any of us in our drinking days ….

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