Alcoholism is a common term used to describe alcohol misuse, but when people talk about alcoholism, what they are actually referring to is an alcohol use disorder, which is the clinical term for alcohol addiction. Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder can cause significant damage to the body. Given this fact, some people may even ask, “Can you die from alcoholism?” Learn the answer, as well as information about the dangers of alcohol use disorder, below. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol misuse, you may benefit from medication assisted treatment for alcohol use, which can help you to safely stop drinking and reduce your risk of alcohol-related health problems.
It is common for people to wonder, “Can you die from drinking?” The answer is that alcohol misuse can lead to death in some cases. In fact,recent research in the United States shows that alcohol is responsible for 2.6% of deaths in the country.
Dying from alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder is usually the result of complications arising from alcohol addiction. An alcohol use disorder is the clinical term for an alcohol addiction, and it is diagnosed when a person continues to drink, despite serious consequences, such as health problems, interpersonal conflict, or inability to fulfill duties at work or home.
A person with an alcohol use disorder will continue drinking even in the face of consequences, because brain changes from chronic alcohol misuse lead to compulsive drinking. A person may desire to stop drinking, but they are unable to cut back on alcohol. This can lead to chronic, heavy alcohol misuse, which can ultimately cause health problems, and in some cases, death.
Rate of Alcohol-Related Deaths In The US
Recent data from the US show that there were 944,880 deaths from alcohol in the United States between 1999 and 2017. In 2017, 2.6% of the almost 2.8 million deaths in the country involved alcohol, which equates to approximately 72,600 deaths.
In most cases, deaths from alcohol misuse are a result of chronic, heavy drinking, rather than acute causes. Furthermore, as of 2017, 25.5 per 100,000 deaths in the United States were a result of alcohol-related causes.
Chronic liver disease is a common reason for dying from alcohol use disorder. Unfortunately, rates of death from liver disease are on the rise. The graph below depicts the increase in deaths from liver disease over the past three years. Many of these deaths are linked to alcohol misuse.
Who May Be At Risk?
Anyone who misuses alcohol chronically may be at risk of alcohol-related death, but some people are at higher risk than others. For instance,research shows that men are more likely than women to die from alcohol-related causes, and nearly three-fourths of alcohol-related deaths occur in men. The American Indian/Native Alaskan population is also more likely than other groups to die from alcohol use disorder. Finally, people aged 55 to 64 are more likely than other age groups to die from reasons related to alcohol misuse.