Researchers in the US have found that excessive alcohol use is the fourth largest cause of death in the country. Over a 4 year period, the researchers studied the number of alcohol related deaths and the amount of potential life lost. The goal was to understand the true cost of alcohol and gauge its harm on society.
In the 4 years of the study, the scientists found on average each year there were 87,798 deaths directly attributable to alcohol. There was also an average of 2,560,290 years of life lost caused by alcohol. 44% of the annual alcohol deaths and 33% of the years of life lost were due to chronic alcohol conditions while acute conditions made up 56% of the yearly deaths and 67% of the years of life lost.
The most common chronic cause of alcohol related death was liver disease while the most common acute cause of death was drinking and driving.
Of the nearly 89,000 yearly deaths caused by alcohol, 5% of victims were under 21 meaning they had been drinking illegally. With so many people abusing alcohol at a young age, researchers found that the average age of death from alcohol in the USA is 27.9.
The majority of alcohol related deaths were among people between 20 and 64. This group is considered working aged adults which means each death not only harms their families emotionally, it also has a greater economic impact. Taking into account reduced earning power, premature death and other economic costs, the researchers found that in 2006 alone the bill for excessive alcohol consumption was $223.5 billion.
To help reduce the burden on society the research recommends increasing the price and tax on alcohol while also increasing the responsibility of alcohol sellers and creating rules to limit the number of alcohol selling establishments in any one area.
This would limit the amount of alcohol available and possibly force any establishment providing alcohol to be more vigilant about over serving patrons.
To learn more about alcohol abuse, check out the Life Works Knowledge Centre.