In the United States, alcohol poisoning kills an average of six people every day. Research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests alcohol poisoning has become a significant issue in recent years. The data is specifically disturbing, as the deaths are preventable.
As discussed by the CDC, the statistics were complied using death certificates provided by the National Vital Statistics System.
Each year, an estimated 2,221 U.S. residents die of alcohol poisoning. A majority of the victims are non-Hispanic white males between the ages of 35 and 64.
Alcohol poisoning is caused by binge drinking, or consuming large amounts of alcohol during a short period of time. As explained by The Mayo Clinic, symptoms may include difficulty breathing, decreased heart rate, low body temperature, and an impaired gag reflex.
Suspected alcohol poisoning must be treated as an emergency, as it can lead to coma or death. The Mayo Clinic suggests calling 911 immediately. They further suggest monitoring the patient until help can arrive.
“… someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit and not be able to breathe. While waiting for help, don’t try to make the person vomit because he or she could choke. Try to keep him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, make sure to turn his or her head to the side… Try to keep the person awake to prevent loss of consciousness.”
The CDC reports that a majority of alcohol poisoning deaths occurred in California, New York, Florida, and Texas. The fewest number of alcohol poisoning deaths were recorded in Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Vermont.
As a majority of the deaths were preventable, the CDC recommends several options for reducing cases of alcohol poisoning. The researchers suggest strict regulations for retail alcohol establishments and screening for alcohol abuse.
Although doctors are often able to identify excessive drinkers, and suggest intervention programs, studies suggest patients are reluctant to discuss alcohol abuse.
The CDC reports that “only one in six U.S. adults overall, one in five current drinkers, and one in four binge drinkers in 44 states and the District of Columbia reported ever discussing alcohol use with a doctor or other health professional.”
Although binge drinkers are unlikely to discuss their behavior, researchers hope the new data will raise awareness about the dire situation. Although six U.S. residents die each day due to alcohol poisoning, the deaths are often preventable.
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