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Alcohol's Effects on Health

Research-based information on drinking and its impact.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Alcohol-Related Emergencies and Deaths in the United States

Updated: 2023

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Alcohol related deaths in the united states. More than 140,000 people died from alcohol-related causes annually from 2015 to 2019
  • The rate of all alcohol-related emergency department visits increased 47.0% between 2006 and 2014, which translates to an average annual increase of 210,000 alcohol-related emergency department visits.1
  • Estimates suggest that alcohol played a role in at least 7.1% of emergency department visits and 17.4% of deaths due to opioid overdoses in 2020.2,3
  • The Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application estimates that each year there are more than 140,000 deaths (approximately 97,000 male deaths and 43,000 female deaths) attributable to excessive alcohol use, making alcohol one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, behind tobacco, poor diet and physical inactivity, and illegal drugs.4,5
  • An analysis of death certificates from 2019 and 2020 showed that deaths involving alcohol rose from approximately 79,000 to more than 99,000, a 25.5% increase.6
  • Between 2015 and 2019, the leading causes of alcohol-attributable deaths due to chronic conditions in the United States were liver diseases (e.g., alcohol-associated liver diseases and unspecified liver cirrhosis), cardiovascular diseases, cancers of various types (e.g., organs of the upper respiratory and digestive tracts, liver, colon, and breast), and alcohol use disorder (AUD).4
  • In 2021, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 13,384 deaths (or 31% of overall driving fatalities).7
  • According to the most recent estimate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 21.0% of suicide decedents have blood alcohol concentrations of 0.1% or more.8
  • Among people who die by suicide, AUD is the second most common mental disorder and involved in roughly 1 in 4 deaths by suicide.9
Alcohol deaths increasing. Up 25.5% betwn 2019-2020 (78,927 to 99,017) & 10% in 2021 (108,891). 1 in 6 (16%) overdose deaths 2020-2021. Traffic deaths up 14% to 11,654 in 2020, most since 2008
Past-yr alc: 62.3%. AUD: 10.6%. ED: 1,714,757; 4,936,690 rel. Death: 140,547; 58,277 acute; 82,279 chron. Opioids: Past-yr: 3.3%. OUD: 0.9%. ED: 408,079; 1,461,770 rel; Death: 80,411; 70,601 synth; 9,173 heroin; 13,618 Rx.
If you need suicide- or mental health-related crisis support, or are worried about someone else, please call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat with Lifeline to connect with a trained crisis counselor. To find alcohol treatment for yourself or an adult loved one, visit the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator.
According to CDC, due to scientific updates to Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI), estimates of alcohol-attributable deaths or years of potential life lost generated in the current version of ARDI should not be compared with estimates that were generated using the ARDI default reports or analyses in the ARDI Custom Data Portal prior to April 19, 2022.

References

  1. White AM, Slater ME, Ng G, Hingson R, Breslow R. Trends in alcohol-related emergency department visits in the United States: results from the nationwide emergency department sample, 2006 to 2014. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2018;42(2):352-9. PubMed PMID: 29293274
  2. Analysis of data from the 2020 National Emergency Department Sample. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). October 2022. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Available from: hcup-us.ahrq.gov/nedsoverview.jsp
  3. White AM, Castle IP, Powell PA, Hingson RW, Koob GF, Alcohol-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA. 2022;327(17):1704-6. PubMed PMID: 35302593
  4. CDC. Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact. [Table], Annual average for United States 2015–2019 alcohol-attributable deaths due to excessive alcohol use, all ages. [cited 2022 Apr 26]. Available from: https://nccd.cdc.gov/DPH_ARDI/Default/Report.aspx?T=AAM&P=612EF325-9B55-442B-AE0C-789B06E3A8D5&R=C877B524-834A-47D5-964D-158FE519C894&M=DB4DAAC0-C9B3-4F92-91A5-A5781DA85B68&F=&D=
  5. Pilar MR, Eyler AA, Moreland-Russell S, Brownson RC. Actual causes of death in relation to media, policy, and funding attention: examining public health priorities. Front Public Health. 2020;8:279. PubMed PMID: 32733836
  6. White AM, Castle IP, Powell PA, Hingson RW, Koob GF. Alcohol-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA. 2022;327(17):1704-6. PubMed PMID: 35302593
  7. National Center for Statistics and Analysis, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2021 [Internet]. Washington: U.S. Department of Transportation; 2023 Apr [cited 2023 Apr 12]. 50 p. Available from: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813435
  8. Alpert HR, Slater ME, Yoon YH, Chen CM, Winstanley N, Esser MB. Alcohol consumption and 15 causes of fatal injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2022;63(2):286-300. PubMed PMID: 35581102
  9. Berglund M, Ojehagen A. The influence of alcohol drinking and alcohol use disorders on psychiatric disorders and suicidal behavior. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998;22(7 Suppl):333S-345S. PubMed PMID: 9799958
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