Alcohol-related deaths rose 25% in first year of pandemic, study finds

Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News (TNS)
Alcohol-involved deaths increased by 25% in 2020 from 2019, according to research published Friday. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Alcohol-involved deaths increased by 25% in 2020 from 2019, according to research published Friday.

From 1999-2017, the average year-over-year increase was only 2%. Previous studies found that alcohol consumption increased sharply in 2020 as well.

In 2020, 99,017 people died from alcohol-related causes. In 2019, that number was only 78,927 people.

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“We’re not surprised. It’s unfortunate, but we sort of expected to see something like this,” the study’s lead author, Aaron White, told CNN. “It’s not uncommon for people to drink more when they’re under more duress.”

The increase occurred across all age groups.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at death certificate data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any certificate that listed alcohol as an underlying cause was counted toward the study. Any deaths caused by someone driving under the influence were also included.

According to the study, alcohol contributed to 3% of all deaths in 2020. That was up from 2.8% in 2019.

Total deaths increased by 16.6% from 2019 to 2020, the study found.