Alcohol Poisoning Kills Six People Per Day in the U.S.

By John Lavitt 04/07/15

Binge drinking is the number one cause of alcohol poisoning.

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A 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the startling fact that alcohol poisoning kills an average of six people every day in the United States.

With more than 2,200 people succumbing to alcohol poisoning every year, the Vital Signs report from the CDC offers steps that states and communities can take to prevent binge drinking. Binge drinking is the number one cause of alcohol poisoning in the U.S.

Drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time leads to alcohol poisoning. Through building up extremely high levels of alcohol in the body, alcohol poisoning initiates the shutdown of critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. The result of such a shutdown is almost always death.

Alcohol poisoning deaths affect people of all ages, yet the highest percentage of such deaths is not among college-aged young people. Rather, alcohol poisoning is most common among middle-aged adults 35-64 years old. In addition, men are much more likely to die of alcohol poisoning than women in all age groups.

The facts presented in the report are an intriguing balance of the obvious and the surprising. Most alcohol poisoning deaths are among non-Hispanic whites. Although a smaller share of the U.S. population, American Indians and Alaskan Natives have the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people of any of the races. In fact, Alaska has the most alcohol poisoning deaths per million people, while Alabama has the least. Finally, alcoholism was identified as a factor in only 30% of alcohol poisoning deaths. Most cases of alcohol poisoning are the result of binge drinking by non-dependent people.

CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias explained the reasons behind the report when she said, “Alcohol poisoning deaths are a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers of excessive alcohol use ... We need to implement effective programs and policies to prevent binge drinking and the many health and social harms that are related to it, including deaths from alcohol poisoning.”

By taking steps to prevent binge drinking, states, and communities can reduce alcohol poisoning deaths. Four steps highly recommended by the CDC report are:

  1. Making binge drinking awareness a priority for law enforcement police, community groups, health departments, and health-care providers across the board.
  2. Keeping a statistical account of the role of alcohol in injuries and deaths in order to understand trends and danger zones.
  3. Providing financial and local support to programs and policies that decrease binge drinking.
  4. Enforcing stronger alcohol policies that have been proven to reduce binge drinking in certain states and counties.
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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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