Number of deaths related to alcohol per annum
Story Behind the Curve
Death certificate data are used to track underlying and contributing causes of death, to understand the burden of drug overdose deaths for prevention. The underlying cause of death is the disease or injury that initiated the events leading to death while the contributing causes of death are diseases or injuries that contributed to the fatal outcome. Data are collected by the IDOH Division of Vital Records. A final dataset is provided by the IDOH, Office of Data and Analytics, and Data Analysis Team and analyzed by the Division of Trauma and Injury Prevention to identify overdose deaths among Indiana residents. Deaths are reported back to the county of residence of the Indiana decedent.
Alcohol related overdose and alcohol poisoning death counts include the following codes:
- R78.0 - Excess alcohol blood levels
- X45- Accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol
- X65 - Intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to alcohol
- Y15- Poisoning by and exposure to alcohol, undetermined intent
Page last updated: October 3, 2023
The Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, nonfederal, volunteer body of public health and prevention experts, recommends several evidence-based community strategies to reduce harmful alcohol use. Learn more about the Community Guide’s findings here.
Community Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations
- Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density
- The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends the use of regulatory authority (e.g., through licensing and zoning) to limit alcohol outlet density as a strategy to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. Alcohol outlet density refers to the number and concentration of alcohol retailers (such as bars, restaurants, liquor stores) in an area.
- Increasing Alcohol Taxes
- The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends increasing the unit price of alcohol by raising taxes to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. Public health effects are expected to be proportional to the size of the tax increase. Alcohol excise taxes affect the price of alcohol, and are intended to reduce alcohol-related harms, raise revenue, or both. Alcohol taxes are implemented at the state and federal level, and are beverage-specific (i.e., they differ for beer, wine, and spirits).
- Dram Shop Liability
- Dram shop liability laws mean that if a customer buys a drink, leaves that location, and then causes harm, the owner of the place where the drink was served is legally responsible. Such harms may include death, injury, or other damages that result from alcohol-related car crashes.
- Maintaining Limits on Days of Sale
- Limiting the days when alcohol can be sold is intended to prevent excessive alcohol consumption and related harms by regulating access to alcohol. Most policies limiting days of sale target weekend days (usually Sundays). They may apply to alcohol outlets in which alcohol may be legally sold for the buyer to drink at the place of purchase (on-premises outlets, such as bars or restaurants) or elsewhere (off-premises outlets, such as liquor stores).
- Maintaining Limits on Hours of Sale
- Approaches may include maintaining existing limits in response to efforts to expand hours of sale and expanding current limits on hours of sale. Policies limiting hours of sale may apply to outlets that sell alcohol for consumption at the place of purchase (on-premises outlets, such as bars or restaurants) or elsewhere (off-premises outlets, such as liquor stores).
- Electronic Screening and Brief Interventions (e-SBI)
- e-SBI uses electronic devices (e.g., computers, telephones, or mobile devices) to facilitate delivery of key elements of traditional screening and brief interventions. At a minimum, e-SBI involves screening individuals for excessive drinking, and delivering a brief intervention, which provides personalized feedback about the risks and consequences of excessive drinking.
- Enhanced Enforcement of Laws Prohibiting Sales to Minors
- Enhanced enforcement programs initiate or increase the frequency of retailer compliance checks for laws against the sale of alcohol to minors in a community. Retailer compliance checks, or “sting operations,” are conducted by, or coordinated with local law enforcement or alcohol beverage control (ABC) agencies, and violators receive legal or administrative sanctions.
- The Community Guide (n.d.). Excessive Alcohol Consumption.
According to the CDC, excessive alcohol use was responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the United States each year during 2015–2019, or more than 380 deaths per day.
Each year, deaths from excessive alcohol consumption:
- Shortened the lives of those who died by an average of 26 years, for a total of nearly 3.6 million years of potential life lost.
- Usually involved adults aged 35 or older and males.
- Were mostly due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as various types of cancer, liver disease, and heart disease.
- Led to premature deaths. Deaths from drinking too much in a short time (from causes such as motor vehicle crashes, poisonings involving substances in addition to alcohol, and suicides) accounted for more than half of the years of potential life lost. (1)
Alcohol affects every organ in the body. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by enzymes. However, the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body. The intensity of the effect of alcohol on the body is directly related to the amount consumed (2).
Drinking alcohol raises your risk of getting several kinds of cancer: mouth and throat, voice box (larynx), esophagus, colon and rectum, liver, and breast cancer. Some studies show that drinking three or more alcoholic drinks per day increases the risk of stomach and pancreatic cancers. There is also evidence that drinking alcohol increases the risk for prostate cancer. All alcoholic drinks, including red and white wine, beer, and liquor, are linked with cancer. The more you drink, the higher your cancer risk.
The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation (two drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women). If you don’t drink, don’t start drinking. Drinking less alcohol is better for health than drinking more (3).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Deaths from Excessive Alcohol Use in the United States. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions About Alcohol. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Alcohol and Cancer. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.