New study reveals alcohol is more harmful than most people in West realize
Alcohol use costs the U.S. more than $250 billion a year in lost work productivity, higher healthcare costs, criminal justice expenses, and vehicle accidents.
Excessive alcohol use also kills more than 140,000 people in the U.S. every year. Even the recent spike in opioid overdose deaths doesn’t come near the number of people killed by alcohol annually.
Yet despite all the destroyed lives and livelihoods and the huge toll that excessive alcohol use takes on the economy and society, alcohol retains its positive patina in the West.
That is dangerous because it lulls individuals and society into thinking there’s nothing to worry about with alcohol. That is simply not true, as two recent studies make clear.
Alcohol is killing people in their prime
A study just appeared in JAMA in November 2022. It found that 1 in 8 deaths in Americans aged 20 to 64 can be attributed to excessive alcohol use. When that age range is narrowed to 20 to 49, one in five deaths is from excessive alcohol use. Among 20 to 34-year-olds, 1 in 4 die from excessive alcohol use.
How are people dying in these cases? Mostly from alcoholic liver disease, cancers related to drinking (mouth, throat, esophagus, breast, liver, and colon cancer), heart disease, and from injuries and accidents related to intoxication.