For the first time in a decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted an analysis of America’s struggle with alcohol poisoning by tallying such incidents for the entire population. In doing so, they discovered that an average of six people die every day from alcohol poisoning in America. But the report on their findings released this January provides more than a mere death toll: It puts hard data behind the notion that alcohol poisoning is a bigger issue than many people may realize.
New method of analysis paints clearer picture of alcohol poisoning prevalence
Although it may not seem like a novel idea, the method of analyzing the American population as a whole is in fact a departure from the CDC’s usual procedure. Most previous studies of this nature have narrowed the scope of their analyses to certain subsets of the population based on characteristics like race, age and occupation. By broadening their scope to study the entire population at once, the CDC was able to get a better understanding of how serious an issue alcohol poisoning is, and potentially dispel age-old assumptions about which groups are most at risk.
One such assumption is that college students and young adults face the highest risk of death from alcohol poisoning. This misconception spawns from binge drinking-laced party scene they are constantly exposed to. However, of the 2,221 people who died of alcohol poisoning each year from 2010-2012, 75% of them were ages 35 to 64. About three-quarters of the deaths occurred in males, which led to the highest death rate occurring among men ages 45 to 54.
Dr. Robert Brewer, the head of the CDC’s alcohol program, acknowledged that these results contrast popular perception. “Most previous studies have looked at college kids and young people, but the problem is bigger than that,” Brewer said. “It was surprising that the number of deaths was so concentrated among middle-age adults.”
The good news is that this new revelation should have major implications for future research, as the CDC begins to explore what factors lead to such a high rate of alcohol poisoning among those demographics.
Bouts of binge drinking still largely responsible for death from alcohol poisoning
While this study revealed that the groups most often associated with binge drinking are not necessarily the ones suffering the most from it, it did reaffirm that binge drinking itself is the primary cause for a majority of alcohol poisoning deaths. When people consume a lot of alcohol in a small amount of time, they run the risk of overwhelming the body’s central nervous system. Their blood alcohol levels rise so abruptly that the brain is not able to respond fast enough, and the parts that control things like breathing, heart rate, body temperature and even the gag reflex can slow down and eventually stop altogether.
To compound the issue, many people have a fundamental misunderstanding of how little it takes to potentially trigger those problems. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as having four drinks for women, or five for men, in the same occasion (typically a period of about two hours). When you start to do the math, you begin to realize a lot more people are binge drinking a lot more often than you’d think. In fact, according to the CDC, about 38 million adults report binge drinking an average of four times per month. That means that every weekend nearly 40 million Americans are subjecting themselves to the looming danger of alcohol poisoning.
Get help from the first signs of alcohol dependence
Although it was not directly responsible for the majority of deaths examined in this CDC analysis, alcoholism is a crippling disease that can have life-altering effects. While binge drinking is not necessarily an indication of alcohol dependences, it can certainly function as the breeding ground.
If you or someone you love might be exhibiting early signs of alcohol abuse, don’t wait to get the help you deserve. Call The Watershed today at 1-800-861-1768.Tags: CDC, drug facts, national drug facts week