In the first report of its kind in a decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that about six Americans die every day from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual drinks an enormous quantity of alcohol in a very short amount of time which can cause areas of the brain in charge of vital functions (including breathing, heart rate and temperature regulation) to shut down. While binge drinking is typically associated with college-aged students and young adults, the study actually found that three-quarters of the reported deaths were among 35- to 64-year-olds.
"Most previous studies have looked at college kids and young people, but the problem is bigger than that," said Dr. Robert Brewer, head of the alcohol program at the CDC, in a statement. "It was surprising that the number of deaths was so concentrated among middle age adults.
According to the CDC, over 38 million American adults binge drink (drinking over four drinks at a single occasion for women and five for men) on average four times per month, resulting in over 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths every year.
The New York Times' Sabrina Tavernise reports on the study's specifics:
The highest rate of deaths from alcohol poisoning occurred among Native Americans and Native Alaskans, with 49 deaths per one million people -- far above the approximately nine deaths per one million people that is the average for the country. The bulk of deaths were among non-Hispanic whites, who made up 67 percent of all deaths.
The report also provided a breakdown by state. The lowest death rate was in Alabama, followed by Texas, Illinois and Virginia. The highest rate was in Alaska, driven by the native population there, followed by New Mexico, Rhode Island and Arizona.
"Alcohol poisoning deaths are a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers of drinking too much alcohol, which is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.," said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias. "We need to implement effective programs and policies to prevent binge drinking and the many health and social harms that are related to it, including deaths from alcohol poisoning."