Food & Drink | January 13, 2020 12:06 pm

American Deaths From Alcohol Have Doubled in the Past 20 Years

According to a study published this Wednesday

Alcohol Killing Americans

According to a study published last week in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, alcohol-related mortality in America doubled from 1999 to 2017. The biggest reason? Americans are drinking more to start this century, especially women. In 2017, 70% of the population aged 18 and older consumed alcohol, at an average of 2.1 drinks per day. That’s an 8% total increase from the pre-2000s metrics, and it’s been largely fueled by heavier drinking in women, who have ramped up their binge drinking by 23.3%.

This has led to more trips to the emergency room — hospitalizations due to alcohol are up 61.6% — and more deaths due to a variety of alcohol-related causes: liver cirrhosis, chronic pancreatitis, drunk driving, drownings, falls, etc. In 2017 the total number hit 72,558.

That puts alcohol just below diabetes, right above influenza, and virtually tied with illicit drug overdose as a leading annual cause of death in America. Those three are all clear public health crises in this country, and are treated as such. Alcohol, clearly, hasn’t had the same brand of treatment over the past two decades. College binge drinking is out of control (and that isn’t changing as long as fraternities stick around). Millennials live in cities, where all disposable income (and social worth) is seemingly reserved for nights out. And alcohol’s branding is better than ever — look to the recent “health-kick” towards low-cal beers and crushable hard seltzers. Even “Dry January,” which many extoll as a chance to “detox” and reset, has its issues. The practice plays on younger generations’ all-or-nothing style of consumption and does little to encourage sustainable moderation.

One interesting conclusion to draw from the meta-analysis is the uptick in drinking among women. Women have led the charge in America’s labor growth since 2008, and it stands to reason that everything that leads to, and comes with, jobs (education, purchasing power, long hours, meetings), could influence a heightened drinking culture.

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