Excessive Drinking: 99 Ways to Die

Excessive drinking

A CDC report says that 10% of deaths in working-age adults (20-64 years) could be directly or indirectly chalked up to excessive alcohol intake, whether it is chronic or binge drinking. During the four year period (2006-2010) that the report covers there were 87,798 alcohol-attributable deaths (AAD) and 2,560,290 years of potential life lost (YPLL), calculated using the CDC Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) online application. In other words, heavy drinking shortened the lifespan of those who died by 30 years. Causes of alcohol-related deaths include breast cancer, liver and heart disease, motor vehicle crashes, homicides and falls. Most of the casualties were male; approximately 70%.

Chronic alcohol drinking is quantified as 15 or more drinks a week for men and 8 or more for women, while binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks in a single sitting for men and 4 or more for women. According to the CDC, a drink equals 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content), 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content), 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content), or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (gin, rum, whiskey, vodka, and so on and so forth). This definition of heavy drinking is the same as that of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, but different than that of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The definition of heavy drinking is not the only number that varies; the rate of death from drinking per state does as well. Two ‘new’ states have the highest and lowest rates, the latter actually being New Jersey; yet another proof of the spuriousness of The Jersey Shore.

Total deaths/Total ADD per state

Top Ten

Bottom Ten

State

Total deaths

ADD’s

State

Total deaths

ADD’s

New Mexico

15,670

1,042

Minnesota

37,897

1,257

Alaska

3,531

275

Virginia

58,536

1,865

Montana

8,713

390

Utah

14,171

529

Wyoming

4,305

210

Nebraska

15,121

422

Arizona

46,023

2,362

Maryland

43,677

1,318

Oklahoma

36,120

1,350

Connecticut

28,794

836

Nevada

19,147

943

Massachusetts

52,954

1,525

Mississippi

28,603

1,025

Hawaii

9,591

304

District of Columbia

5,035

210

New York

147,610

4,011

Colorado

30,684

1,628

New Jersey

69,557

1,754

Not only does heavy drinking take a toll in the form of productivity lost due to so many individuals passing away at the prime of their lives, but it also cost the country $224 billion per year; or, $1.90 per drink. Excessive drinking is the 4th largest cause of preventable death in the United States, but the CDC researcher and lead author of the report epidemiologist Mandy Stahre thinks it does not get as much attention as the number one cause, tobacco. However, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health David Jernigan hopes that these findings will be a reality check for most Americans. He says that, unlike tobacco, the problem with alcohol is not so much addiction as abuse. Any one person can have one too many drinks one night and crash their car or make themselves an easy target for violence.