Excessive alcohol use is the 4th leading preventable cause of death in the US. In fact, excessive drinking causes about 10% of deaths among 20–64 year olds…with binge drinking responsible for about half of that 10%. Nationally, alcohol is a factor in about 60% of homicides, 50% of severe trauma injuries, and 40% of car crashes and suicides. Yet, about 13% of Arizonans (780,000 adults) said that they binge drink in our 2013 survey. Interestingly, only about 10% of binge drinkers are alcohol dependent.
A report published by the CDC this month found that there were 2,221 alcohol poisoning deaths in the US in 2012. Keep in mind that alcohol poisoning deaths are just a small subset of alcohol attributable deaths. Most of the deaths (1,681 or 76%) were among 35–64 year olds (mostly men). The highest death rate from alcohol poisoning was among men aged 45–54 years old. Surprisingly (at least for me), only 2% were under 21.
Recently we took a deeper dive into the Arizona data. We found that about 2.5% of all emergency room visits and 4.5% of inpatient hospitalizations (4,500/100,000) were related to excess alcohol use in 2013. Emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths were most common in the 45-54 male age group. Interestingly, we found that unmarried men 45-54 years old were at the highest risk for all categories. In fact, unmarried men represented more than 30,000 of the approximately 40,000 emergency department visits for causes related to alcohol in 2013.
Being married decreased the odds of an ER visit for alcohol by 40% after adjusting for age, gender, race and ethnicity, and insurance status (as a proxy for income). Odds for an alcohol related ER visit was highest among American Indian population (7 times) compared to other race and ethnicities.