Alcohol-related deaths, particularly those of middle-aged women, surged during the pandemic, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control on Friday.
The death rate has been steadily increasing for years, but between 2019 and 2020, the CDC found it spiked by 26%. For women between the ages of 35 and 44, such deaths increased by an even higher 42%.
Previously the dramatic rise had never increased at a rate higher than 7% year over year, according to NBC News.
Friday’s report also found that overall the rate of U.S. deaths from 2019 to 2020 rose from 10.4 per 100,000 people to 13.1 per 100,000.
The study correlates to another report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March, in which researchers reviewed death certificates from the Centers for Disease Control for people aged 16 and older and found ones where alcohol was an underlying or contributing cause.
That report found that between 2019 and 2020, the number of U.S. deaths involving alcohol soared by 25.5% — far more than the average annual increase of 2.2% that occurred between 1999 and 2017. In 2019, 78,927 people died in alcohol-related deaths — by 2020, that number had increased to 99,017.
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“We’re not surprised. It’s unfortunate, but we sort of expected to see something like this,” Dr. Aaron White, lead author of the study and a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told CNN at the time.
White said that the pandemic understandably took a toll on Americans.
“It’s not uncommon for people to drink more when they’re under more duress, and obviously, the pandemic brought a lot of added stress to people’s lives,” he said. “In addition to that, it reduced a lot of the normal outlets people have for coping with stress, [like] social support and access to gyms.”