Deaths from Excessive Alcohol Use in the United States
Everyone can help prevent excessive alcohol use. Learn how you can take action.
Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, or 261 deaths per day. These deaths shorten the lives of those who die by an average of almost 29 years, for a total of 2.8 million years of potential life lost. It is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and cost the nation $249 billion in 2010.
More than half of alcohol-attributable deaths are due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as various types of cancer, liver disease, and heart disease. However, short-term health effects from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time accounted for most of the years of potential life lost, such as deaths due to poisonings that involved another substance in addition to alcohol (e.g., drug overdoses), suicide, and motor vehicle crashes.
The Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application allows users to see estimates of alcohol-related deaths and years of potential life lost from 58 conditions by age, sex, and state. Of all alcohol-attributable deaths, more than 70% involved men and more than 80% involved adults aged 35 or older. Death rates due to excessive alcohol use varied across states, ranging from 21 per 100,000 population in New York and New Jersey to 53 per 100,000 population in New Mexico.
How Can I Help Prevent Excessive Alcohol Use?
- Choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intakes to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed, according to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal icon. Some people should not drink any alcohol, including if they are pregnant or might be pregnant, if they are under the legal age for drinking, if they have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol, if they are recovering from an alcohol use disorder or if they are unable to control the amount they drink.
- Support effective community strategies to prevent excessive alcohol use, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Forceexternal icon.
- Not serve or provide alcohol to anyone who should not be drinking, including people younger than 21 or those who have already consumed too much.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about your drinking behavior and request counseling if you drink too much.
States and communities can:
- Implement effective strategies for preventing excessive alcohol use, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Forceexternal icon, including regulating the number and concentration of alcohol outlets and limiting days and hours of alcohol sales.
- Enforce existing laws and regulations about alcohol sales and service.
- Partner with police, community groups, health departments, and doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to reduce excessive drinking and related harms.
- Track the role of alcohol in injuries and deaths.
- Routinely monitor and report on measures of excessive alcohol use and the status of effective alcohol policies.