Nearly 500 deaths per day from excessive drinking during COVID-19 pandemic: CDC report

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been officially over, its impact lingers on. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that deaths from excessive drinking surged during the spread of the disease. 

According to the report published last month, the CDC found that roughly 488 people died every day due to excessive consumption of alcohol from 2020-2021, a 29% increase from data 2016-2017. 

"Stress, loneliness, and social isolation; and mental health conditions might also have contributed to the increase in deaths from excessive alcohol use during the Covid-19 pandemic," the report said.

For women, deaths from excessive alcohol use increased by approximately 35% and 27% for men between the two time periods. 

Excessive drinking is associated with chronic dangers such as liver cancer, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. 

Drinking by pregnant women can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects. Health officials say alcohol is a factor in as many as one-third of serious falls among the elderly.

It’s also a risk to others through drunken driving or alcohol-fueled violence. Surveys suggest that more than half the alcohol sold in the U.S. is consumed during binge-drinking episodes.

Even before the pandemic, U.S. alcohol consumption was trending up, and Americans were drinking more than when Prohibition was enacted. But deaths may have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began for several reasons, including people with alcohol-related illnesses may have had more trouble getting medical care, said Marissa Esser, who leads the CDC’s alcohol program.

"Alcohol is often overlooked" as a public health problem, said Esser. "But it is a leading preventable cause of death."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.