Nearly 500 people died every day from alcohol during the pandemic, according to new official data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that from early 2020 through 2021, 178,000 Americans died from conditions caused by alcohol, the highest number since 1999. Causes of death included liver failure and cancer, or due to more direct causes such as alcohol. poisoning or driving while intoxicated.
Authorities said they confirmed that an increase in binge drinking had continued during the first year of the Covid pandemic, which was linked to the daily disruptions caused by the pandemic, as well as the rise of alcohol delivery services. .
The average of 488 alcohol deaths per day in 2021 marks a 29 percent increase from before the pandemic.
It also makes alcohol one of the leading causes of death in the country. In comparison, according to figures from the first week of February, an average of 270 people die from Covid each day. Fentanyl kills an average of 200 people a day, while stroke kills about 400 people a day.
Alcohol has become a leading cause of death among Americans every day, although far less than deaths from heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and accidental injuries. The figures were obtained from government and advocacy organization sources and reflect the most recent years for which data is available. The most recent years range from 2020 to 2023. Covid deaths are recent as of the first week of February.
Psychiatrists and addiction experts believe that the stress of the global pandemic, including anxieties and isolation, precipitated a sharp increase in alcohol-related deaths.
Two-thirds of alcohol deaths in 2021 were due to chronic conditions that develop from long-term use, including cancer and liver disease, while one-third were caused by binge drinking, such as car accidents, multidrug overdoses and suicides.
The number of deaths from excessive alcohol consumption increased by almost 23 percent from 2018-2019 to 2020-2021. This increase was approximately four times greater than the previous increase of 5 percent between 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.
The CDC said it expects these numbers to increase in the future.
Alcohol consumption has been increasing since the mid-1990s, reversing about a decade of declines. In 1995, on average, each person consumed about 2.1 gallons of alcohol throughout the year.
The CDC’s application called Alcohol-Related Illness Impact (ARDI) assesses the average number of deaths related to alcohol consumption, typically over a five-year period.
While between 2020 and 2021, 178,000 deaths were recorded (488 per day), between 2016 and 2017, 138,000 were recorded, an increase of 29 percent.
And in 2024, excessive alcohol consumption caused the premature loss of about 4 million years of life. On average, people who died due to excessive alcohol consumption lost about 23 years of their lives.
Dr Daniel Lieberman, a psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher at George Washington University, told DailyMail.com: ‘These figures are really worrying. We are seeing evidence of an increase in mental illness among Americans, including depression, anxiety, and now, with this data, problems with alcohol use.
‘It is a reflection of the increasing stress in our daily lives caused by the many ways in which the pandemic and lockdowns have impacted our lives. Rising food and housing prices, as well as growing political tensions, are also likely to play a role.’
Researchers from the CDC and the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research captured 58 total causes of death related directly or indirectly to excessive alcohol consumption. Those directly related to alcohol include alcoholic liver disease, alcohol poisoning, and suicide.
This incidence was higher in men, but rates increased more rapidly among women.
The number of daily deaths due to alcohol in 2020, while pales in comparison to that of Covid, is higher than the number of daily deaths from Covid today: around 269.
The graph above shows that alcohol consumption has been on the rise since the mid-1990s, having previously seen a sharp decline for about a decade. Graphic courtesy of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
The rate of daily deaths due to alcohol that year exceeded the daily deaths due to fentanyl that year, which reached 154. It is also much higher than the current rate of daily deaths from fentanyl, which is about 202 per day.
It also exceeds the number of daily deaths from pneumonia – about 113 – and more than the number of deaths from flu in 2019, which was around 68. The daily number of deaths from stroke, meanwhile, is 383.
Dr. Lieberman added: “As a society, we seem more willing to turn to dangerous substances to cope with the rapid, and sometimes frightening, changes happening around us.
‘Many states are legalizing marijuana and other recreational drugs, but alcohol is the substance people turn to most often. Because of its widespread use, people may underestimate the risks of using it to cope with stress.’
Substance abuse and addiction skyrocketed during the pandemic. From April 2020 to April 2021, during the first year of widespread lockdowns and quarantine orders, a total of 100,306 Americans died from drug overdoses, the first time more than 100,000 overdose deaths were reported in a 12-month period. .
At the same time, nearly a third of American adults experienced worse symptoms of depression in 2021, compared to about 28 percent in early 2020 and 8.5 percent before the pandemic.
And rates of binge drinking also increased. Sixty percent of Americans increased their alcohol consumption during lockdowns, and 46 percent reported increased stress as a reason for drinking more.
Dr. Lieberman said, “I hope this report is a wake-up call.”