What Is the Mortality Rate of Alcoholism?

April 5, 2024

Discover the mortality rate of alcoholism. Uncover the impact, health consequences, and treatment options for alcohol use disorder.

Alcoholism Mortality Rates Overview

Understanding the mortality rates associated with alcoholism is crucial in addressing the impact of excessive alcohol use on individuals and communities. This section provides an overview of global alcohol-related deaths and highlights gender disparities in alcohol-attributable deaths.

Global Alcohol-Related Deaths

Alcohol consumption can have severe consequences, leading to a significant number of deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol-attributable deaths accounted for approximately 2.8 million deaths globally in 2016. This represents about 5.3% of all deaths worldwide.

Gender Disparities in Alcohol-Attributable Deaths

When examining alcohol-related deaths, it is important to consider gender disparities. The percentage of alcohol-attributable deaths among men is higher compared to women. According to the WHO, 7.7% of all global deaths among men are attributable to alcohol, while for women, it is 2.6% [1].

The difference in alcohol-related mortality rates can be influenced by a variety of factors, including variations in alcohol consumption patterns, biological differences, and societal norms. In terms of total alcohol per capita consumption in 2016, the average amount of pure alcohol consumed by male drinkers worldwide was 19.4 liters, compared to 7.0 liters for female drinkers [1].

It is important to note that these statistics provide an overview of the global situation regarding alcohol-related deaths. The specific mortality rates may vary across countries and regions.

Understanding the impact of alcoholism on mortality rates is essential for raising awareness and developing effective strategies to prevent and address the harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption. By recognizing the disparities and considering the factors contributing to alcohol-related deaths, efforts can be directed towards promoting healthier behaviors and providing support to individuals struggling with alcohol use disorder.

Impact of Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a significant public health concern with serious consequences, including mortality. Understanding the statistics and mortality trends associated with alcohol use disorder is crucial for raising awareness and implementing effective interventions.

Statistics on Alcohol Use Disorder

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 14 million adults ages 18 and older in the United States have alcohol use disorder (AUD). This medical condition is diagnosed when a patient's drinking causes distress or harm. The condition can range from mild to severe and is determined when a patient answers "yes" to two or more specific questions.

Mortality Trends in Alcoholism

Alcoholism, or chronic excessive alcohol consumption, is associated with increased mortality rates. Excessive alcohol use was responsible for about 178,000 deaths in the United States each year during 2020-2021, equivalent to 488 deaths per day. This represents a 29% increase from the estimated 138,000 deaths per year in 2016-2017.

Mortality trends in alcoholism can be influenced by various factors, including the health consequences of alcohol consumption and risk factors associated with alcohol-related mortality.

It is important to note that mortality rates can also be influenced by specific complications related to alcohol use disorder. For example, delirium tremens, a severe complication of alcohol withdrawal, has a mortality rate of up to 37% without appropriate treatment.

Understanding the impact of alcohol use disorder and its associated mortality trends is crucial for public health efforts and the implementation of evidence-based interventions to prevent the harmful consequences of excessive alcohol consumption.

Health Consequences of Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on an individual's health, leading to various alcohol-attributable conditions and increasing the risk of alcohol-related mortality. Understanding these consequences is crucial to raise awareness and promote healthier choices.

Alcohol-Attributable Conditions

Alcohol use is related to a wide range of negative health outcomes, including morbidity, mortality, and disability. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to the development of several conditions, such as:

  • Liver diseases, including alcoholic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis.
  • Cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, stroke, and heart failure.
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, including gastritis, pancreatitis, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Neurological disorders, such as alcohol-induced dementia and neuropathy.
  • Mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and alcohol-induced psychosis.

These are just a few examples of the many conditions associated with alcohol use. The severity and frequency of these conditions can vary depending on individual factors such as the amount and duration of alcohol consumption, genetic predisposition, and overall health.

Risk Factors for Alcohol-Related Mortality

Alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor for mortality, both directly and indirectly. Excessive alcohol use can lead to fatal accidents, injuries, and diseases. Some key risk factors for alcohol-related mortality include:

  • Motor vehicle crashes: Alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents while driving under the influence.
  • Falls and injuries: Alcohol use can contribute to falls, accidents, and injuries due to impaired balance and coordination.
  • Fires: Alcohol consumption increases the risk of fires and burns, as impaired judgment and coordination can lead to unsafe behaviors.
  • Interpersonal violence: Alcohol is often involved in cases of physical altercations and violent behavior, which can result in fatal outcomes.
  • Suicide: Alcohol use is closely associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation and completed suicides.

It is important to note that the mortality rate of alcoholism can also be influenced by factors such as access to healthcare, treatment availability, and timely interventions. Seeking appropriate treatment and support for alcohol use disorder can significantly reduce the risk of alcohol-related mortality.

Understanding the health consequences and risks associated with alcohol consumption is crucial for individuals to make informed decisions about their drinking habits. It is recommended to consume alcohol in moderation, or for some individuals, to abstain entirely, to minimize the potential negative impacts on health and well-being.

Treatment and Interventions

When it comes to addressing alcohol use disorder (AUD), there are various approaches to treatment and interventions available. These methods aim to help individuals stop or reduce drinking, manage cravings, and prevent relapse. In this section, we will explore the different approaches to treating alcohol use disorder and the medications commonly used in the process.

Approaches to Treating Alcohol Use Disorder

Treating alcohol use disorder often requires a comprehensive approach that may include a combination of therapies, counseling, support groups, and medications. The choice of treatment method depends on various factors, including the severity of the disorder, individual preferences, and the presence of any co-occurring mental health conditions.

Some common approaches to treating alcohol use disorder include:

  • Behavioral Therapies: These therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), help individuals identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors associated with drinking. They also provide coping strategies and support for maintaining sobriety.
  • Support Groups: Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), provide individuals with a supportive community of people who have experienced or are experiencing similar challenges with alcohol. These groups offer a platform for sharing experiences, receiving guidance, and building a sober network.
  • Family Therapy: Involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial, as it addresses familial dynamics, improves communication, and provides support for both the individual with AUD and their loved ones.
  • Residential Treatment: In severe cases of alcohol use disorder, residential treatment programs may be recommended. These programs provide a structured environment with intensive therapy, counseling, and support to help individuals overcome their addiction.

Medications for Alcoholism

Certain FDA-approved medications have been shown to be effective in treating alcohol use disorder and reducing alcohol consumption. These medications can help individuals stop drinking, manage withdrawal symptoms, and prevent relapse. The decision to use medication as part of the treatment plan is typically made in consultation with a healthcare professional.

Common medications used for alcoholism treatment include:

  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone helps reduce alcohol cravings and blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol. It can be taken in pill form or administered through a monthly injection. Naltrexone is most effective when used in conjunction with counseling and support.
  • Acamprosate: Acamprosate helps individuals maintain abstinence from alcohol by reducing withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia. It is typically taken in tablet form and works best when combined with counseling and a support system.
  • Disulfiram: Disulfiram works by causing unpleasant physical reactions, such as nausea and flushing, when alcohol is consumed. This discourages individuals from drinking. Disulfiram is taken in tablet form and should only be used under close medical supervision.

It's important to note that medication alone is not a cure for alcohol use disorder. It is most effective when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes therapy, counseling, and support.

Research shows that treatment for alcohol problems can be highly effective. About one-third of people who receive treatment for alcohol use disorder have no further symptoms one year later, while many others significantly reduce their drinking and experience fewer alcohol-related problems. Seeking professional help and finding the right treatment approach can greatly improve the chances of successfully managing alcohol use disorder and achieving long-term sobriety.

Ethnic Disparities in Alcohol Use

Alcohol use disorders can vary across different ethnic groups, with disparities observed in both prevalence and treatment. Understanding these disparities is crucial for addressing the impact of alcoholism on different ethnic communities. In this section, we will explore the relationship between ethnicity and alcohol use disorders, as well as the disparities in alcohol treatment.

Ethnicity and Alcohol Use Disorders

Research has shown that certain ethnic groups have a higher risk for alcohol use disorders compared to others. Whites and Native Americans are more susceptible to alcohol use disorders relative to other ethnic groups [6]. However, once alcohol dependence occurs, Blacks and Hispanics experience higher rates of recurrent or persistent dependence compared to Whites [6].

National surveys have also highlighted differences in alcohol consumption patterns across ethnic groups. Native Americans have the highest prevalence of heavy drinking, followed by Whites and Hispanics. Asian Americans and Blacks, on the other hand, have lower rates of heavy drinking [6]. These variations in drinking patterns contribute to the differing risks of adverse effects associated with alcohol.

Alcohol Treatment Disparities

Disparities in alcohol treatment exist among different ethnic groups. Native Americans have the highest prevalence of alcohol treatment need, followed by Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. However, Hispanics are less likely to receive specialty alcohol treatment compared to Whites and Blacks. Moreover, Blacks and Hispanics with higher severity alcohol problems are less likely to use any treatment services compared to Whites with similar severity of alcohol problems [6].

Black and Hispanic adult drinkers are more likely than White drinkers to report alcohol dependence symptoms and social consequences from drinking. These ethnic group differences were identified even in individuals who drink at the no/low level of heavy drinking. However, alcohol problems were similar for all groups at the highest level of heavy drinking [6].

Addressing these disparities requires a comprehensive approach to alcohol treatment that takes into account the specific needs and challenges faced by different ethnic groups. By recognizing and addressing the unique factors contributing to alcohol use disorders within each ethnic community, it is possible to provide more effective and culturally sensitive support for individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Alcohol-Related Morbidity and Mortality

Alcohol consumption is associated with various negative health outcomes, including morbidity (illness) and mortality (death). Research examining alcohol-related morbidity and mortality takes into account overall alcohol consumption and drinking patterns. While light-to-moderate drinking may have some potential benefits for certain health conditions, excessive or prolonged alcohol use can lead to detrimental effects on health [4].

Disease Conditions Linked to Alcohol Use

Alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of morbidity and mortality related to several disease conditions. A person's average volume of alcohol consumption, measured in terms of the average number of drinks per day, has been extensively studied in relation to alcohol-related mortality. Different levels of alcohol consumption, including light, moderate, and heavy, have been associated with increased or decreased risk for more than 60 disease conditions [4].

These are just a few examples, and the impact of alcohol on various disease conditions can vary. It is essential to understand that excessive alcohol consumption can significantly contribute to the development of these health conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to consume alcohol in moderation and be mindful of the associated risks.

Alcohol-Attributable Cancer and Liver Cirrhosis

Alcohol consumption has a significant impact on the occurrence of certain types of cancer and liver cirrhosis. Studies have consistently reported associations between average alcohol consumption and different types of cancer. Drinking an average of 25 grams of pure alcohol per day has been linked to significantly elevated cancer risks for various sites, including the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum, liver, larynx, and female breast.

Additionally, alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis is a severe consequence of excessive alcohol use. In 2010, alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis was responsible for 493,300 deaths worldwide. The mortality burden caused by alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis amounted to 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people, with men being more affected than women. It also accounted for 208.0 potential years of life lost (PYLL) per 100,000 people [7].

Alcohol-related morbidity and mortality, including the disease conditions mentioned above, highlight the importance of responsible alcohol consumption. It is crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with excessive alcohol use and to make informed choices regarding alcohol consumption to safeguard one's health.


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

[2]: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/features/excessive-alcohol-deaths.html

[3]: https://dhhr.wv.gov/office-of-drug-control-policy/newsletters/Pages/Evidence-Based-Treatments-for-Alcohol-Use-Disorder.aspx

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

[5]: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3887493/

[7]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3908708/