Alcohol Deaths On The Rise

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

While media attention centers on the ‘opioid epidemic’, it’s obscured another addiction that is claiming an increasing number of lives. Alcohol kills more people than overdoses of opioids through both accidents while under the influence and health effects of prolonged alcohol use such as cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis and suicide. The increase of alcohol related deaths between 2007 and 2017 has risen 24%, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

Among the most affected of this increase are women. The rate of alcohol related deaths in women rose by 87% during this period. While teen deaths dropped 16%, the deaths are increased along with age due to the prolonged use of alcohol leading to chronic illness. State restriction on the substance typically had a negative correlation to the death rate. Alabama, for instance, has very strict laws around alcohol purchasing yet was ranked third in states with the most deaths. In fact, southern states, like Florida, had higher death rates due to alcohol related reasons responsible partially to the level medical care in the region. Southern states rate lower overall in areas related to overall health care. The only difference in consumption between states with stricter alcohol policies was lower overall amounts of binge drinking.


Studying Binge Drinking

A study into binge drinking conducted by research reported in the February 2018 journal issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research an increase in women ending up in the emergency room, mostly middle-aged. The complications of prolonged drinking, along with binging, would lead to complications of dealing with multiple issues at once; pumping the stomach, draining trapped fluid from the stomach due to cirrhosis and emptying their lungs of vomit to prevent drowning. Other complications included brain hemorrhaging or internal bleeding due to alcohol’s effects on the blood which prevents clotting while thinning the blood itself. With age and continued drinking, women are falling ill to dementia, heart failure and immune suppression resulting in infections that spread rapidly.

While the opioid epidemic claimed around  70,000 lives in 2017, alcohol claimed 80,000 but still being largely unnoticed as an epidemic itself. One of the causes of this oversight comes with the fact that alcoholism’s propensity to lead to so many other health problems that end up being the final ‘reason’ reported as a death. A person who dies of heart-valve disease isn’t seen in the public eye as an alcoholic or alcohol related death. Combined with the legality of the substance, it makes overlooking its effects on Americans, especially women, at this scale quite easy to miss.

If you or anyone you know could be suffering from alcoholism, call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 971-5531 for more information about South Florida alcohol treatment and to find out more about treatment options in Pompano for you or a loved one.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.