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Alcohol Is Killing More Americans Than Ever
More and more Americans are drinking themselves to death. A new study this week finds there were around 72,000 alcohol-related deaths among people over the age of 16 in 2017—more than double the number of similar deaths recorded two decades earlier.
The study, published Wednesday in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, relies on death certificate data. It found there were almost 1 million alcohol-related deaths among people over age 16 documented in the U.S. between 1999 and 2017. In 1999, there were 35,914 such deaths, amounting to a rate of 16.9 deaths per every 100,000 people over 16 that year; in 2017, the number ballooned up to 72,558, or a rate of 25.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
For context, just over 70,000 people in the U.S. died of overdose from illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl in 2017—a reality that’s rightly been recognized as a dire public health crisis. Across all recreational drugs, cigarette smoking is the only thing deadlier than alcohol, with an estimated half a million deaths annually.