Covid ‘Cocktail Crisis’ Adds to America’s Serious Drinking Problem

Lockdowns and other pandemic stresses have certainly primed the drinking pump

Robert Roy Britt
Elemental
Published in
6 min readJul 30, 2020

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Photo: Amin Hasani/Unsplash

Americans are drinking more during the Covid-19 pandemic, and even indulging on the job while working from home, adding to an epidemic of alcohol consumption that research shows will only lead to more premature deaths, most notably among middle-aged people.

Excessive alcohol consumption kills more than 93,000 people in the United States every year, shortening the lives of these people by an average of 29 years, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research accounts for acute alcohol-related deaths involving such things as violence, car crashes, suicides, accidents, and child abuse.

But 55% of these premature, preventable deaths are from long-term drinking that causes various cancers, liver disease, heart disease, and other health problems. Overall, 71% of these premature deaths are among men, and 56% are people ages 35 to 64.

The study, led by CDC scientist Marissa Esser, PhD, is based on data from 2011 through 2015. The figures are slightly higher than in the previous five-year period.

“A lot of my patients talk about this idea that there’s a hamster wheel constantly going in their head and that alcohol quiets down the hamster wheel. But I’m worried when drinking becomes the routine, go-to solution.”

Likely an undercount

There were substantial differences among states. The researchers recorded 20 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people in several states, including New York and New Jersey. A few other states had lower figures but were thought to have “suppressed estimates” of the real totals, the study concludes.

The five states with the highest number of alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people:

  • New Mexico: 52
  • Arizona: 37
  • Montana: 37
  • Oklahoma: 36
  • West Virginia: 35

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Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB