Pandemic Sees Major Spike in Alcohol-Related Deaths: Study

Hand holding a glass of beerHand holding a glass of beer
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Deaths connected to alcohol shot up 25.5% between 2019 and 2020.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed the noticeable jump in deaths related to alcohol between 2019 and 2020, correlating with the onset of the pandemic. 

According to the study, the average annual increase that occurred between 1999 and 2017 was 2.2% — a stark difference from 2020’s 25.5%.

This resulted in the death of 99,017 people in 2020, compared to the 78,927 that died in 2019.

The first year of the pandemic saw an increase in adult alcohol use, with data showing an increase of over 50% for the tested week compared to the year prior. 

Because of this and the toll COVID-19 has taken on individuals, researchers were prepared for less-than-favorable test results.

"We're not surprised. It's unfortunate, but we sort of expected to see something like this," Dr. Aaron White, lead author of the study and a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told CNN.

White spoke to both the duress the pandemic caused and the lack of regular stress-outlets. 

"It's not uncommon for people to drink more when they're under more duress, and obviously, the pandemic brought a lot of added stress to people's lives," he told CNN. 

"In addition to that, it reduced a lot of the normal outlets people have for coping with stress, [like] social support and access to gyms."

According to CNN, the CDC does not have 2021 data available yet. However, researchers looked at the provisional data and found that January 2021 was the month with the highest number of alcohol-related deaths between January 2019 and June 2021, which could be a sign that 2021’s upcoming data could be even more staggering.

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