Report: Alcohol poisoning kills six people every day

An average of six people die each day in the U.S. from alcohol poisoning.

That’s equal to about 2,200 adults. The majority of alcohol poisoning deaths (76 percent) are among adults ages 35 to 64 and about 76 percent are men, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time. High levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate and body temperature.

More than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking (defined as four or more drinks for women, five or more for men) an average of four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge, according to the Vital Signs report.

Alcohol poisoning death rates varied widely across the country, from 46.5 deaths per million residents in Alaska to 5.3 per million residents in Alabama.

The alcohol poisoning death rate in Washington is 8.1 per million residents. Oregon’s rate was much higher – 12.7 per million residents.

The percentage of alcohol poisoning deaths also varied among age groups, but was most common among middle aged adults.

About 34 percent of alcohol poisoning deaths were among people 45 to 54 years old; 21 percent of the deaths were among people 35 to 44 years old and another 21 percent were among 55- to 64-year-olds, according to the report.

People 15 to 24 years old only accounted for 5 percent of alcohol poisoning deaths; 25- to 34-year-olds accounted for 13 percent, according to the report.

“This study shows that alcohol poisoning deaths are not just a problem among young people,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, report coauthor.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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