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How Many People Have Died From Alcohol?

An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year. This makes alcohol abuse the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.4 Out of the estimated 88,000 in the above statistic, approximately 62,000 are usually men and 26,000 are women.

  • In 2015, 138.3 million people in the U.S. aged 12 or older reported current use of alcohol.
  • 66.7 million reported binge drinking in the past month.
  • 17.3 million reported heavy alcohol use within a 30-day period.
  • Of those, an estimated 15.7 million had an alcohol use disorder.
  • A person does not have to be addicted to die from alcohol poisoning, cirrhosis of the liver or alcohol’s many other health complications.3

Causes of Alcohol-Related Deaths

Causes of death by alcohol-induced mortality included the following:10

  • Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Suicide
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Alcoholic liver disease and liver failure

Alcohol-Related Mortality Risk Factors

Alcohol abuse increases the risk of many harmful health conditions. These factors are often a result of binge drinking and may include the following:

Short-Term Health Risks

  • Injuries including falls, crashes or burns
  • Violence, including sexual assault, homicide or suicide
  • Alcohol poisoning, high alcohol levels
  • Risky behaviors, including sex with multiple partners. These behaviors may result in HIV.
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs)

Long-Term Health Risks

  • Potentially fatal high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and digestive problems
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Memory problems or dementia
  • Social and family problems. This may include unemployment

Alcohol-Related Mortality Statistics

  • An estimated 2,200 people lose their lives to alcohol poisoning every year in the United States. This equates to six a day.
  • From 2010 to 2012, an estimated 76% of alcohol poisoning deaths were among adults aged 35-64.
  • Alaska had the most alcohol-poisoning deaths per million people. Alabama had the least. Alcohol dependence was identified as a factor in 30% of alcohol poisoning deaths.11
  • As early as 1980, research suggested women who drank at least one alcoholic beverage per day during pregnancy had a more than threefold risk of miscarriage. This mainly occurred during the second trimester, compared to women who did not drink or those who drank moderately.13
  • A 2008 study of more than 600,000 births found a 40% increase in the likelihood of stillbirths in women who consumed any amount of alcohol.
  • An earlier study indicated consuming more than five drinks per week led to a threefold increase in stillbirth risk. Even after adjusting for potentially confounding socioeconomic and lifestyle factors.14
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 35,092 people in the United States died in traffic crashes in 2015. An estimated 10,265 of these were killed in drunk driving crashes involving a driver with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater. Among the people killed in these drunk driving crashes, 67% (6,865) were in crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .15 or higher.8

Teenage Drinking and Driving Figures

Based on 2006-2010 data, alcohol is a factor in the deaths of 4,358 young people aged 21 and younger every year. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens. Many of these crashes involve alcohol. In fact, 20% of teen drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents have alcohol in their system.7

Among the 61.4% of students nationwide who drove a vehicle during the 30 days before being surveyed, 7.8% had driven one or more times when they had been drinking alcohol. The prevalence of having driven a car or other vehicle after drinking alcohol was higher among males (9.5%) than females (6%).

Which Celebrities Died of Alcohol-Related Diseases?

Alcoholism knows no boundaries. It has taken a serious toll on celebrities and common folk alike. Some die from alcohol poisoning, while others suffer from disease directly caused by alcoholism.1,2

  • Amy Winehouse: On July 23, 2011, the Grammy-award winning singer was found dead at her London home. After a long battle with alcohol and drug addiction, she died from alcohol poisoning at age 27. Her blood-alcohol content was more than five times the legal limit.
  • John Bonham: The Led Zeppelin drummer died at age 32 in September 1980. It was later determined Bonham had consumed more than 40 shots of vodka. Eventually he began vomiting and choking to death. His official cause of death was asphyxiation caused by alcohol.
  • Jack Kerouac: Author of the famed Beat generation novel On the Road. The story reflects the author’s real-life attachment to alcohol. Kerouac was a die-hard alcoholic and ultimately suffered its consequences. On October 20, 1969, he suffered internal bleeding as a result of cirrhosis of the liver. Despite surgical attempts to save him, he lost his life the next day at age 47. His death was caused by an internal hemorrhage (bleeding esophageal varices) caused by cirrhosis. This was the result of longtime alcohol abuse along with complications from an untreated hernia and bar fight injuries incurred several weeks prior to his death.
  • W.C. Fields: “Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite. Furthermore, always carry a small snake.” Fields frequently mentioned alcohol in a lighthearted fashion in his comedy routines. Yet he was really an alcoholic in real life. At the time of his death, Fields was being treated in a sanitarium for alcoholism. On Christmas Day, 1946, he died at age 66 from a gastric hemorrhage caused by years of hard drinking.
  • Veronica Lake: Beautiful and glamorous, this actress was well-known for her femme fatale roles in films of the 1940s. Before turning 30, Lake’s health started to decline. She had been diagnosed with schizophrenia in her teens and struggled with recurrences throughout her adult life. To compound this issue, she was addicted to alcohol. Lake died at age 50 on July 7, 1973, from alcohol-related hepatitis and alcoholism.
  • Mickey Mantle: He was one of the greatest sluggers of all time. Mantle was plagued by alcoholism throughout his baseball career. By the time he sought addiction treatment, his liver was severely damaged by cirrhosis. He also contracted hepatitis C. When he received a liver transplant, doctors discovered he also had inoperable liver cancer. On Aug. 13, 1995, just two months after the transplant, Mantle lost his battle to alcoholism-related liver cancer at age 63.

If you have someone in your life who is living with alcohol addiction, help them seek treatment today. Alcohol causes many dangerous health problems in the body, but also leads to unintentional injuries to the user or to others. Make the first step toward recovery and let Promises Treatment Center help you today.

Posted on June 1, 2017 and modified on May 3, 2019

Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

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