Opioid overdoses may have leveled off last year after soaring over the last ten, but Americans are still dying in droves from another, far more popular substance: alcohol.
According to a series of studies cited by MarketWatch, the number of Americans drinking themselves to death has more than doubled over the last two decades, according to a sobering new report. That far outpaces the rate of population growth during the same period.
Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism studied the cause of death for Americans aged 16 and up between 1999 and 2017. They determined that while 35,914 deaths were tied to alcohol in 1999, it doubled to 72,558 in 2017. The rate of deaths per 100,000 soared by 50.9% from 16.9 to 25.5.
Over that 20-year period, the study determined that alcohol was involved in more than 1 million deaths. Half of these deaths resulted from liver disease, or a person drinking themselves to death, or a drug overdose that involved alcohol.
For more context: In 2017 alone, 2.6% of roughly 2.8 million deaths in the US were alcohol-related.
One doesn't need to be a chronic alcoholic to suffer from alcohol: Nine states - Maine, Indiana, Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia - saw a "significant" increase in adults who binge drink, a dangerous activity that can lead to deadly car crashes and other fatal accidents, according to a report released Thursday by the CDC.
And across the country, Americans who binge drink are consuming more drinks per person: That number spiked from 472 in 2011 to 529 in 2017, a 12% increase.
Historically, men have been more predisposed to "deaths of despair" than women: But a study published in "Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research" found that the largest increase in recent years in these types of deaths occurred among non-hispanic white women.
Public health crises tied to substance abuse have been plaguing American for decades. So, what is it about our contemporary society that's causing deaths to skyrocket?
There's some food for thought.