New CDC report shows toll of alcohol overuse on Americans

Reporter: Amy Oshier Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

You hear a lot about the dangers of tobacco and an unhealthy diet, but alcohol use is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. A new report from the CDC shows too much drinking may be even more harmful than some realize.

A report shows 32 people in the U.S. are killed every day in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver—one death every 45 minutes. And the CDC’s four-year study found that one out of every eight deaths that occurred in adults ages 20 to 64 was due to injury or illness caused by excessive alcohol use. And, among those aged 20 to 34, one in four deaths was attributable to drinking!

Overuse of alcohol can increase the risk of harmful events, such as crashes, drownings, falls, violence, suicide, alcohol poisoning and risky sexual behaviors. It’s also been linked to illnesses, liver disease, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive issues, memory problems and depression. But quitting isn’t always easy.

“We can see through the research that people can spend 10 years from the moment they wake up and think, ‘Ugh, is there something wrong with my drinking?’ until actually stopping,” said Veronica Valli, a sober coach and the author of “Soberful.”

According to Harvard Health, there are some proven steps you’re trying to curb your drinking habits: set a drinking limit goal, write down all the benefits of cutting back, eliminate all alcohol from your home and keep a diary of your behaviors.

Most importantly: get support.

“The number one thing is don’t do it alone,” Valli said. “Community is so important.”

The largest recent study in England found that people between 16 and 25 were the most likely to not drink at all. However, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 70% of people of all ages reported that they drank alcohol in the past year, and 55% reported that they drank in the past month.

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