Study: Alcohol Consumption the Sole Cause of 85,000 Annual Deaths In the Americas

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Everyone seems to understand that while it’s legal and generally socially accepted, alcohol is not a healthy substance, particularly if you consume it regularly. Many of us, particularly over the past year or so, have found ourselves imbibing a bit too heartily for one reason or another, some more often than others. While the social costs of alcohol consumption are generally understood in professional circles, the general public may not be fully aware of just how deadly alcohol consumption is in this part of the world in particular and how it’s tied to mental health in so many cases. The results of a new study may begin to change that.

The study focused on what is known as “The Americas,” which basically means the western hemisphere and countries in North America, Central America and South America. What the researchers found will be shocking to many who see them for the first time. SoCal Empowered is an Orange County mental health counseling center that works with people who turn to alcohol as a result of mental health challenges and vice versa every day, and we make it our mission to bring news like this to as many people as possible in hopes that it may help someone get the help that they need before it’s too late.

About the Alcohol Consumption Study

Researchers from PAHO, or the Pan-American Health Organization, and WHO, or the World Health Organization, collaborated on the study. They reviewed the mortality registries from 30 of the 35 countries in the Pan-American region from the years 2013 – 2015. In all, the researchers reviewed more than 18.6 million deaths. The researchers found the following:

  • Alcohol was the sole factor in the death of an average of 85,032 people per year.
  • Men accounted for 83.1 percent of all of the deaths.
  • 9 percent of the people who died were under 60 years of age.
  • Liver disease was responsible for 63.9 percent of the fatalities.
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders such as alcohol dependence were responsible for 27.4 percent of the deaths.
  • Alcohol consumption was a “contributing factor” in more than 300,000 deaths per year.
  • More than 80 percent of those “contributing factor” deaths occurred in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Extrapolating those numbers further, the results reveal that almost 233 people died every day during the course of the study solely because of alcohol consumption, which also equates to nearly 10 people every hour or one person every six minutes. In addition, the researchers found that while the high-income countries such as the United States and Canada have higher levels of alcohol consumption on a per-capita basis, lower-income countries have a higher mortality rate for the same levels of alcohol consumption. The highest countries in terms of mortality rate were Nicaragua, with 23.2 deaths per 100,000 people, and Guatemala at 19 people per 100,000. Those interested in reviewing the abstract of the study can find it here.

What the Alcohol Consumption Study Means

What does alcohol consumption have to do with mental health disorders? Quite a bit, according to a consensus of experts. According to a study published years ago by an arm of the National Institutes of Health, or the NIH, people with alcoholism and mental health disorders, known as people with comorbidities, fell into the following categories of diagnoses:

  • 37 percent had anxiety disorders.
  • 29 percent had a mood disorder.
  • 28 percent had a major depressive disorder.

Does that mean that alcohol consumption causes mental health problems, or should we take all of this to mean the opposite? The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, as there are times when people with mental health disorders turn to alcohol to self-medicate and others where people with alcohol consumption problems ultimately fall prey to mental health challenges. Yes, this comes off as a classic “chicken or the egg” conundrum, but the bottom line is that a large majority of people who drink too much such that their physical health winds up at risk are suffering from something else at the same time that needs treatment as well.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

What’s perhaps most troubling with regards to this alcohol consumption study is that the data were drawn from several years ago, or well before the COVID-19 pandemic. We have already covered the potential meteoric rise in mental health problems that are occurring as a result of the pandemic, and study after study has shown that people are simply drinking more because of different challenges associated with what’s occurred across the planet over the course of the past year.

If you’re drinking too much, it very well could be because of some underlying or coexisting mental health problem that needs treatment. If you’re concerned about this for yourself or you’re worried about someone you love, you need to make sure to do what you can as soon as possible to have the situation reviewed by experienced professionals who understand how to handle these difficult situations.

SoCal Empowered is an Orange County mental health counseling center that works with people whose challenges span the spectrum of disorders that include PTSD, anxiety disorders and just about anything else related to mental health. If you contact us and tell us what’s happening, we’ll be able to immediately recommend a course of action that will help you get to the bottom of what’s wrong as well as what may be needed in order to get a handle on things.

We encourage you to contact us to discuss your situation. If we feel that you or a loved one needs help, we’ll tell you so, and if that’s the case we’ll also help you figure out how your insurance coverage can help you with the costs of whatever treatment you need. There is no time to waste, so reach out to us today to get the help you need.

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