About 72,000 people met an alcohol-related demise in 2017, according to a newly published study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. That number is more than twice as high as in 1999, the study authors report.
For context, this is more than the combined total of all illicit drug overdose deaths from the same time period.
The figures come from death certificate data for people 16 years and older, collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. Liver disease and overdose were the most common causes of alcohol-related death. The highest death rates were seen among people ages 45 to 74, men, Alaska natives, and Native Americans — but women had the highest annual increase.
The study authors note that prior research has shown death certificates often do not identify alcohol as a factor in a person's death, even when it was. Thus, the actual number of deaths related to alcohol consumption is probably higher than reported.