CDC Findings on Excessive Drinking Cited as Liquor Control Commission Urges Moderation

Media Contact: LARA Communications (517-335-LARA (5272))
Email: mediainfo@michigan.gov

August 18, 2020 - According to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 93,296 deaths in the U.S. every year (255 per day), shortening the lives of these people by an average of 29 years (2.7 million years of potential life lost).

Michigan is eighth highest in terms of total deaths among all 50 states and 17th highest in age-adjusted alcohol-attributable deaths per 100,000-population. In consideration of these new data, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission today urges moderation in alcohol consumption.

“These findings are a huge wake-up call toward keeping alcohol consumption in check,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi.  

The CDC reports that 55 percent of these premature, preventable deaths are from long-term drinking that causes various cancers, liver disease, heart disease, and other health problems. Overall, 71 percent of these premature deaths are among men, and 56 percent are people ages 35 to 64. Not surprisingly, alcoholic liver disease was the leading chronic cause of alcohol-attributable deaths overall, most predominantly among men.  

The figures are slightly higher than in the previous five-year period. From 2006–2010 to 2011–2015, CDC findings show a 14.2 percent increase in average annual deaths caused by alcohol dependence and a 23.6 percent increase in deaths caused by alcoholic liver disease. 

Michigan’s alcohol epidemiologist, Patrick Hindman, drew attention to the rising prevalence of binge drinking. “These new data are a reflection of drinking patterns, particularly binge drinking, as approximately 90 percent of adults who report excessive drinking, binge drink.” According to a January 2020 CDC report, there were significant increases in total binge drinks per adult from 2011 to 2017 among adults who reported binge drinking for both men and women, and those aged 35-44 years (up 26.7 percent) and 45-64 years (up 23.1%). 

The largest percentage increases were among those without a high school diploma (45.8 percent) and those with household incomes less than $25,000 (23.9 percent). “Binge drinking is a serious issue, and the strategies recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force for reducing excessive drinking may reduce this drinking pattern and the related health outcomes,” Hindman said.

If you do drink alcohol, think before you drink, and always drink in moderation:

  • According to federal dietary guidelines, if you choose to drink, adults of legal drinking age should stick to no more than one drink a day if you're a woman, and two if you're a man.
  • Know what actually counts as one drink; it’s less than you think.  A "drink" is defined as 0.6 ounces of alcohol, or roughly a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof spirit. Because wine glasses come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, use a measuring cup when pouring; don’t guess.
  • Binge drinking is generally defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in a two-hour period.
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach.  Stronger alcoholic drinks, especially on an empty stomach, can rapidly raise the blood alcohol level and you’ll feel more drunk quickly and will struggle with thinking clearly and overall coordination. In severe cases of drinking on an empty stomach, alcoholic ketoacidosis can occur with serious consequences.
  • Never drink if you’re pregnant or if you have certain medical conditions.
  • Be aware that drinking alcohol can lead to harmful interactions with certain prescription drugs.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.  For more information, go to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services webpage: Get Help Now.

There is an uptick in drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some light to moderate drinkers are drinking more now than before the pandemic, according to a survey released in April by the American Addiction Centers. A similar percentage said that if they work from home, they’re more likely now to drink during working hours.

According to another survey by RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, the average number of drinks per day increased 27 percent between February and April, with binge drinking up 26 percent. The biggest rise was among people with kids at home versus adults with no children in the house.

“Many Michiganders are dealing with the loss of a job, working remotely, teaching the kids at home and feeling isolated, and we know that uncertainty and anxiety is high right now,” said Gagliardi. 

Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

It is the mission of the MLCC to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through the regulation of those involved in the importation, sale, consumption, distribution, and delivery of these alcohol products. 

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