Sunday, April 24, 2022

Alcohol deaths during the Covid lockdowns

"The number and rate of alcohol-related deaths increased approximately 25% between 2019 and 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates increased prior to the pandemic, but less rapidly (2.2% mean annual percent change between 1999 and 2017). The rate increase for alcohol-related deaths in 2020 outpaced the increase in all-cause mortality, which was 16.6%.

Previous reports suggest the number of opioid overdose deaths increased 38% in 2020, with a 55% increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. There were similar increases in the number of deaths in which alcohol contributed to overdoses of opioids (40.8%) and, specifically, synthetic opioids (59.2%).

Deaths involving alcohol reflect hidden tolls of the pandemic. Increased drinking to cope with pandemic-related stressors, shifting alcohol policies, and disrupted treatment access are all possible contributing factors. Whether alcohol-related deaths will decline as the pandemic wanes, and whether policy changes could help reduce such deaths, warrants consideration.

Study limitations include inaccurate death certificates, such as underreporting of alcohol involvement,6 and unclear causal relationships among listed causes of deaths. Provisional data are subject to change when more death certificates are processed."

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