Americans drinking themselves to death at record rates

More people died in the U.S. from reasons caused by alcohol than from prescription painkillers and heroin combined.

By Stephen Feller

ATLANTA, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Several recent studies have shown epidemic use of prescription opioids and heroin, but new data show Americans are drinking themselves to death in record numbers.

More than 30,700 people died from alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis of the liver last year, and when factoring in deaths from alcohol-related DUI the total number of alcohol-related deaths rises to more than 88,000, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


The number of people drinking alcohol each month has steadily increased over the last decade by about two percent, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, with women showing a greater increase in drinking since 2002 than men.

Several studies have shown positive effects on health with moderate drinking, including a recent study suggesting it can reduce risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Binge drinking and alcohol abuse have posed an increasing issue for the United States in recent years, though. A CDC study in June showed alcohol poisoning caused up to six deaths per day.

The data, experts say, follow drinking patterns that started to emerge in the 1990s. "Since the prevalence of heavy drinking tends to follow closely with per capita consumption, it is likely that one explanation for the growth in alcohol-related deaths is that more people are drinking more," Philip Cook, a researchers at Duke University, told the Washington Post.


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