What Is the Mortality Rate of Alcoholism?

Discover the mortality rate of alcoholism and the factors contributing to this global health concern. Gain insights on prevention strategies.

Understanding Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a chronic disease characterized by a compulsive and uncontrollable urge to consume alcohol. It is a complex condition that affects individuals physically, psychologically, and socially. Understanding the definition and prevalence of alcohol addiction is crucial in recognizing its impact on individuals and society.

Definition and Overview

Alcohol addiction refers to a chronic and relapsing disorder wherein an individual develops a dependence on alcohol. It is characterized by the inability to control or stop drinking despite negative consequences. The compulsive consumption of alcohol becomes the primary focus of a person's life, often leading to significant disruptions in various aspects, including health, relationships, and work.

Alcohol addiction involves both physical and psychological dependence. Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to the presence of alcohol, leading to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when alcohol consumption is reduced or stopped. Psychological dependence, on the other hand, is the intense craving and emotional reliance on alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, or other emotional states.

Prevalence and Impact

The impact of alcohol addiction is significant on a global scale. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 5.9% of deaths worldwide and a global loss of 139 million disability-adjusted life-years NCBI. In 2016, the total alcohol per capita consumption was 19.4 liters for males and 7.0 liters for females worldwide WHO.

Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with various negative health outcomes, including liver cirrhosis, gastrointestinal complications, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, and an increased risk of mortality. Alcoholism has been found to shorten life expectancy by about 10 years on average NIAAA.

The impact of alcohol addiction extends beyond individual health. It also contributes to social and economic burdens such as accidents, violence, crime, and lost productivity. In the United States alone, excessive drinking is responsible for approximately 95,000 deaths each year.

Understanding the definition and prevalence of alcohol addiction is crucial for raising awareness and addressing the challenges associated with this chronic disease. By recognizing the impact it has on individuals and society, efforts can be made to prevent and intervene in alcohol addiction, promoting healthier and safer communities.

Mortality Rate of Alcoholism

Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, is a serious public health concern that can have severe consequences, including increased mortality rates. In this section, we will explore global alcohol-related deaths, alcohol-attributable deaths by gender, and alcohol-induced mortality trends in the USA.

Global Alcohol-Related Deaths

Alcohol-related deaths are a significant global issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, alcohol was responsible for 7.7% of all global deaths among men and 2.6% of all deaths among women. The total alcohol per capita consumption was, on average, 19.4 liters of pure alcohol for males and 7.0 liters for females worldwide.

Alcohol-Attributable Deaths by Gender

The percentage of alcohol-attributable deaths varies between genders. Among men, 7.7% of all global deaths are attributed to alcohol, while among women, it is 2.6% [1]. This discrepancy can be partially attributed to differences in alcohol consumption patterns and metabolism between men and women.

Alcohol-Induced Mortality Trends in the USA

In the United States, alcohol-induced mortality has shown concerning trends over the years. Between 1999 and 2020, alcohol-induced mortality increased by 50%, from 7.0 to 10.5 deaths per 100,000 population. Joinpoint analysis revealed an average annual increase of 2.9% during the entire two decades of the study. Notably, the mortality rate remained stable from 1999 to 2007, increased by 3% annually from 2007 to 2018, and experienced a significant spike with an annual increase of 14.1% from 2018 to 2020.

A total of 605,948 alcohol-induced deaths were recorded in the USA from 1999 through 2020, with an age-adjusted mortality rate of 8.3 per 100,000 population [2]. The highest mortality rates were observed among males, American Indian/Alaska Native Non-Hispanic Whites, individuals aged 55 to 64 years, and individuals from the Western census region.

From 2018 to 2020, rising trends in alcohol-induced mortality were observed across racial/ethnic subgroups, except for American Indians/Alaska Natives. The highest rates were observed among males, non-Hispanic Whites, individuals aged 55 to 64 years, and individuals from the Western census region. Annual increases of 17% were observed among non-Hispanic Blacks, 14.3% among non-Hispanic Whites, 9.5% among Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 12.6% among Hispanics [2].

These statistics highlight the critical need for prevention and intervention strategies to address alcohol addiction and reduce alcohol-induced mortality rates. Public health initiatives, policies, and support and treatment options play pivotal roles in combating the adverse effects of alcoholism and reducing the associated mortality risks.

Factors Contributing to Alcohol-Related Mortality

Alcohol-related mortality is influenced by various factors, including socioeconomic status, alcohol-related health consequences, and alcohol-related morbidity and disability. Understanding these factors is crucial in comprehending the impact of alcohol abuse on mortality rates.

Socioeconomic Status and Alcohol Outcomes

The relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and alcohol-related outcomes is complex and multifaceted. Lower socioeconomic status is associated with a higher risk of negative alcohol-related consequences, including alcohol-related mortality. Factors such as income, educational level, employment status, and housing status contribute to this association.

Individuals with lower SES tend to bear a disproportionate burden of the negative consequences of alcohol abuse. This disparity is further exacerbated among marginalized communities, including racial and ethnic minorities and homeless individuals. The interplay of socioeconomic factors and alcohol outcomes underscores the need for interventions that address individual-level risks and economic disparities to reduce alcohol-related mortality among vulnerable populations.

Alcohol-Related Health Consequences

Chronic alcohol abuse is associated with a range of health consequences that contribute to increased mortality risks. Conditions such as liver cirrhosis, gastrointestinal complications, severe cardiovascular and neurological consequences, including stroke, are prevalent among individuals who engage in long-term alcohol abuse [2].

It is important to note that alcohol-related mortality is often underreported as a cause of death. This is because the impairments caused by alcohol abuse can lead to indirect causes of mortality, such as violence, crime, or accidents, which may not accurately reflect the role of alcohol in mortality records.

Alcohol-Related Morbidity and Disability

Alcohol abuse can result in significant morbidity and disability, further contributing to alcohol-related mortality. Prolonged alcohol misuse can lead to chronic health conditions, mental health disorders, and physical impairments that reduce overall quality of life and increase the risk of premature mortality.

The interplay between alcohol-related morbidity and mortality highlights the importance of early intervention, access to treatment, and ongoing support for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. By addressing the underlying alcohol-related morbidity and disability, it is possible to reduce the associated mortality risks.

Understanding the factors that contribute to alcohol-related mortality is crucial for developing effective prevention and intervention strategies. By addressing socioeconomic disparities, promoting public health initiatives and policies, and providing support and treatment options, it is possible to mitigate the impact of alcohol abuse on mortality rates and improve overall well-being.

Health Risks Associated with Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption is associated with various health risks, including chronic diseases, increased risk of breast cancer, and alcohol-related morbidity and mortality. Understanding these risks is crucial in assessing the impact of alcohol consumption on overall health.

Chronic Diseases and Alcohol

Research has shown that alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of developing various chronic diseases. The risk of disease tends to increase with higher average daily alcohol consumption. Relative risk estimates have been used to quantify the effect size of the risk relationships between alcohol consumption and different chronic diseases [4].

It is important to note that the relative risk estimates may vary depending on factors such as gender, genetics, and overall health. Moderation and responsible alcohol consumption are key in minimizing the potential risks associated with chronic diseases.

Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk

Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, with higher alcohol consumption corresponding to higher relative risks. Studies have shown that females who consume more than 40 grams of pure alcohol per day have a relative risk of 1.59 compared to female abstainers.

The relationship between alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk is complex, and the exact mechanisms are not fully understood. However, it is believed that alcohol can increase estrogen levels, which may contribute to the development of breast cancer.

To mitigate the risk, it is recommended that individuals, particularly women, limit their alcohol consumption and adhere to the guidelines provided by healthcare professionals.

Alcohol-Related Morbidity and Mortality

Alcohol-related morbidity and mortality encompass a wide range of disease conditions and health outcomes. More than 80 studies have examined the relationship between a person's average volume of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality. The research has shown varying levels of alcohol consumption to be associated with increased or decreased risk for morbidity and mortality related to more than 60 disease conditions [4].

In developed countries, more data is collected on alcohol-related mortality compared to disability caused by alcohol use. While 1.5 percent of all deaths are attributable to alcohol, 6 percent of all life years lost to disability are attributed to alcohol [4].

The impact of alcohol-related morbidity alone is limited due to the substantial resources required to assess individual outcomes in an objective and standardized way. However, it is clear that excessive or long-term alcohol consumption can contribute to a range of health problems and increase the risk of mortality.

Understanding the health risks associated with alcohol consumption is crucial for making informed decisions about alcohol consumption and promoting overall well-being. It is important to seek professional advice and support if you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction or facing alcohol-related health issues.

Alcohol-Related Emergencies and Deaths

Alcohol-related emergencies and deaths are a significant concern, highlighting the devastating impact of alcohol misuse. Understanding the mortality rates associated with alcohol-induced conditions is crucial in addressing this public health issue.

Alcohol-Induced Mortality in the United States

In the United States, alcohol-induced deaths have been a persistent problem. From 1999 through 2020, a total of 605,948 alcohol-induced deaths were recorded, resulting in an age-adjusted mortality rate of 8.3 per 100,000 population [2].

The mortality rate has experienced fluctuations over the years. Between 1999 and 2020, alcohol-induced mortality increased by 50%, from 7.0 to 10.5 deaths per 100,000 population in the USA. The trend analysis revealed an average annual increase of 2.9% during the entire two decades of the study. Notably, the mortality rate remained stable from 1999 to 2007, experienced a gradual increase of 3% annually from 2007 to 2018, and spiked to an alarming annual increase of 14.1% from 2018 to 2020.

Impact of Excessive Drinking

Excessive drinking poses a significant risk to public health, resulting in a considerable number of deaths in the United States. Each year, excessive drinking accounts for approximately 95,000 deaths. These deaths are a consequence of various alcohol-related conditions, including liver disease, alcohol poisoning, and accidents caused by impaired judgment and coordination [5].

Furthermore, alcohol-related emergencies constitute a substantial proportion of all drug-related emergency visits. In 2021, alcohol-induced conditions accounted for 39.33% of all drug-related emergency visits, making it the most common cause. Alcohol misuse has been linked to life-threatening diseases such as various malignancies, liver cirrhosis, gastrointestinal complications, and severe cardiovascular and neurological consequences [2].

These statistics highlight the urgent need for preventive measures, interventions, and public health initiatives to address the high mortality rates associated with alcohol misuse. By raising awareness, providing support and treatment options, and implementing evidence-based policies, we can strive to reduce the impact of excessive drinking on individuals and communities.

Prevention and Intervention Strategies

Addressing alcohol addiction requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention, intervention, and support for individuals struggling with alcoholism. By implementing effective strategies, public health initiatives, and policies, along with providing support and treatment options, it is possible to make a positive impact on individuals affected by alcohol addiction.

Addressing Alcohol Addiction

Addressing alcohol addiction involves a multi-faceted approach that encompasses various interventions and treatments. Some key strategies include:

  • Education and Awareness: Providing education about the risks and consequences of alcohol addiction is crucial in preventing and addressing the problem. Raising awareness about the physical, mental, and social health impacts associated with excessive alcohol consumption can help individuals make informed decisions.
  • Screening and Brief Intervention: Identifying individuals at risk of alcohol addiction through screening tools can aid in early intervention. Brief interventions, such as counseling and motivational interviewing, can help individuals recognize the need for change and provide them with strategies to reduce their alcohol consumption.
  • Behavioral Therapies: Behavioral therapies play a significant role in treating alcohol addiction. Approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) can help individuals develop coping mechanisms, set goals, and modify behaviors associated with alcohol use.

Public Health Initiatives and Policies

Public health initiatives and policies play a critical role in reducing the harmful effects of alcohol addiction. Some key strategies include:

  • Alcohol Taxation: Implementing higher taxes on alcoholic beverages can help reduce overall consumption and discourage excessive drinking. Higher prices can act as a deterrent, particularly for individuals at risk of alcohol addiction.
  • Restricting Availability: Implementing policies that regulate the availability of alcohol, such as reducing the number of liquor stores or restricting sales during certain hours, can help curb excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Advertising and Marketing Regulations: Enforcing stricter regulations on alcohol advertising and marketing can help prevent underage drinking and reduce alcohol-related harm. Limiting the exposure of alcohol advertisements to vulnerable populations, such as young people, can have a positive impact.

Support and Treatment Options

Providing support and treatment options is crucial for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. Some important avenues for support include:

  • Support Groups: Encouraging individuals with alcohol addiction to join support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can provide a sense of community and help individuals navigate their recovery journey. These groups offer guidance, encouragement, and a safe space to share experiences.
  • Professional Treatment: Seeking professional treatment through rehabilitation centers or outpatient programs can provide individuals with the necessary tools and support to overcome alcohol addiction. Treatment options may include detoxification, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and ongoing therapy.
  • Family and Social Support: The support of family, friends, and the broader social network can significantly impact an individual's recovery from alcohol addiction. Encouraging open communication, understanding, and providing a supportive environment can aid in the recovery process.

By implementing prevention and intervention strategies, along with public health initiatives, policies, and support options, it is possible to address alcohol addiction effectively. These efforts can contribute to reducing the mortality rate associated with alcoholism and improving the overall well-being of individuals affected by this condition.


[1]: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/alcohol

[2]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10243241/

[3]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4872618/

[4]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676700/

[5]: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-related-emergencies-and-deaths-united-states

Lacey has worked for over a decade as a writer, in conjunction with having worked around the world in poor social and economic living conditions to provide sustainability programs through numerous non-profits. Her efforts focus on making a difference in people's lives one small step at a time.