Alcohol Poisoning Kills Six People a Day, on Average

By Brunk, Doug | Clinical Psychiatry News, February 2015 | Go to article overview

Alcohol Poisoning Kills Six People a Day, on Average


Brunk, Doug, Clinical Psychiatry News


Every day, an average of six people in the

United States die from alcohol poisoning the majority of them middle-aged men, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is likely to be an underestimate," the CDC's Deputy Principal Director, Ileana Arias, Ph.D., said during a recent press briefing.

Dr. Arias highlighted findings from a study of alcohol poisoning among people aged 15 and older that coauthor Dr. Robert D. Brewer and associates conducted using multiple cause-of-death data from the National Vital Statistics for 2010-2012.

They found that more than 2,200 Americans died each year of alcohol poisoning, for an average of six deaths every day each year.

Three in four alcohol poisoning deaths involved adults 35-54 years old, mostly men.

The researchers determined that binge drinking, defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men during a period of 2-3 hours, accounted for most of the deaths.

"Despite the risks, more than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking about four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge," Dr. Arias said. "Alcohol poisoning is caused by consuming a very large amount of alcohol in a very short period of time."

A person's response to alcohol can vary depending on many factors, including the grade of alcohol consumed, the health of the drinker, and whether the drinker has consumed other drugs. "But the key point is this: The more you drink, the greater you are at risk of poisoning and of death," she said.

Dr. Arias noted that a 12-ounce can of 5% beer contains the same amount of alcohol as a 5-ounce glass of 12% wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. "It's also best to avoid drinks with unknown alcohol content and be very cautious when mixing alcohol with energy drinks," she said.

"Caffeine can mask alcohol's effects, causing you to drink more than you intended [to]. …

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