Intoxicated driving may be the most high-profile cause of alcohol-related deaths, but a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the consequences of excessive drinking go far beyond the roads.
According to the article published in Preventing Chronic Disease, CDC researchers found that excessive drinking is responsible for nearly 88,000 premature deaths each year and it reduced the lifespan of those who died by as much as 30 years. It also costs the U.S. over $223.5 billion each year in lost productivity, healthcare, and law enforcement expenses.
Differences in Gender and Geographic
An infographic that accompanied the findings defines excessive drinking as binge drinking, underage drinking, consistent heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women. In addition to fatal drunk-driving crashes, the report lists liver and heart disease, alcohol-related violence, and alcohol poisoning as common causes of death related to excessive alcohol consumption. Approximately 70% of the deaths involved men.
The report also highlights a troubling geographic pattern. While results varied dramatically between individual states, there was a clear division between east and west. New Mexico, Alaska, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana had the highest rates of alcohol-related deaths among working-age adults, while New Jersey, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Maryland had the lowest.
In their conclusion, the researchers endorsed solutions proposed by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Community Preventive Services Task Force, such as increasing alcohol costs and taxes, enforcing commercial host laws, and limiting the number of places that serve or sell alcohol within a given area. These measures tend to be unpopular but the report claims the extreme impact of excessive drinking justifies such measures. What do you think?