It’s been presumed (and even joked about) that being cut off from normal social interactions and working from home for long stretches over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic would lead some Americans to consume more alcohol than they otherwise would. Now that there’s been enough time to collect and analyze data on the subject, it seems this is no laughing matter. A new article published in JAMA Network Open reveals that that alcohol-related deaths jumped approximately 25% between 2019 and 2020, overall. Further, morality related to alcohol use disorder (AUD) rose 25% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. The largest increase in AUD deaths (40% in 2020 and 34% in 2021) was seen in subjects between 25 and 44 years of age, the youngest group studied. There was no significant difference between genders. Urgent care physicians are well-positioned to probe for signs of problem drinking and increased risk of AUD and related deaths. Multiple online screening tools are available; one the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website refers visitors to do is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) tool, available at https://auditscreen.org/.
Alcohol Abuse Is Killing More Americans Since the Pandemic Began. Can You Help Flag Them?