COVID-19 Era Sees Spike in Fatal Alcohol Abuse: CDC Report



A new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that deaths linked to excessive drinking increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the average annual number of such deaths rising by around 30% from 2016-2017 to 2020-2021. It also found that the increase was higher in women (35%) compared to men (27%). The rise has been attributed to expanded alcohol carryout and delivery policies, liquor stores being considered essential businesses, delays in seeking medical attention, stress, isolation, and mental health conditions.

Surge in Deaths from Excessive Alcohol Use during COVID-19 Pandemic

Deaths linked to excessive alcohol consumption significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals.

Findings in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report show that deaths from “excessive alcohol use” rose approximately 30% from 2016-2017 to 2020-2021. This increase was even more significant in women, with a 35% rise compared to 27% in men.

The study attributes this surge partly to policies implemented during the 2020-2021 peak of the pandemic, allowing expanded carryout and delivery of alcohol. Many states also designated locations selling alcohol for off-premise consumption, like liquor stores, as essential businesses, keeping them open during lockdowns.

Other contributing factors include delays in seeking medical attention, avoidance of emergency departments for alcohol-related conditions, increased stress, loneliness, and social isolation. The rise in mental health conditions during the pandemic also played a crucial role.

A separate 2021 study predicted that heightened alcohol consumption would lead to an additional 100 deaths and 2,800 cases of liver failure by the end of that year.

Co-author of the study, Turgay Ayer, emphasizes the severe unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. He suggests their study can act as a foundation for quantifying the long-term impact of elevated alcohol consumption related to COVID-19 and initiating discussions for potential interventions. 

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