The covid-19 pandemic in the United States has caused more than deaths from the new coronavirus: a study has found a significant increase in the number of deaths from excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages in 2020 and 2021. Cedars-Sinai Institute and Hospital of California also found that the increase in deaths was greatest in adults aged 25 to 44.
“We are also aware of reports from other centers of complications related to heavy alcohol use. This led us to believe that this may have been, and still is, a significant public health crisis,” he added.
To confirm whether the cases observed on a daily basis were a national reality, the researchers used a projection and comparison method. First, they projected deaths that would occur in 2020 and 2021 due to complications from alcohol abuse, based on deaths recorded for this reason between 2012/13; 2014/15; 2016/17 and 2018/2019.
The information was extracted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database, a platform that covers more than 99% of deaths in the United States. Next, the scientists compared the number of expected deaths from what they called alcohol use disorders for the years 2020 and 2021 with the actual number of deaths during that time for the same reason.
The result has been an overall increase in mortality from alcohol or alcohol-related disease across all ages and genders during the pandemic. In 2020, mortality rates increased by 24.79%; j in 2021, the increase was 21.95% of what was expected for those years.
Although people aged 25-44 are the youngest with recorded deaths – compared to people aged 45-64 and over 65 – it is in this age bracket that deaths have the highest more increased in the first two years of the pandemic. In 2020, 40.47% more was recorded, and in 2021, 33.95% of what was expected.
For the author of the study, the mortality rates could be even higher. “We know that alcohol use disorders are often underreported, so actual alcohol use death rates could be even higher than reported,” Yeo said.
An important study for the formulation of public policies, according to researchers
To classify binge eating as an alcohol use disorder, the researchers used a medical guide called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which categorizes the disorder.
According to the document, a person has an alcohol use disorder when it “results in clinically significant harm or distress manifested by recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to perform school duties, at work or at home”.
The researchers also analyzed the relationship between the disorder and the socioeconomic profile of the victim. The finding was that most of them belonged to social classes that did not have enough purchasing power to seek treatment, which made it difficult to access treatment for diseases caused by alcohol.
During the pandemic, doctors say the closures and targeting of medical facilities just for covid-19 has affected the treatment of people with the disease. “By publishing this article, we want everyone, especially policy makers and doctors on the front lines, to know that during the pandemic there has in fact been a significant increase in alcohol-related deaths,” he said. Yeo said.
“Our results suggest that indirect effects of the pandemic, such as stay-at-home policies and reduced medical and social resources for patients with alcohol use disorders, suggest excess deaths.” he.
“We want to ensure that patients seeking treatment for alcohol or substance use have access to follow-up care to avoid secondary complications. High vulnerability subgroups require personalized prevention and intervention strategies from people with this disorder to combat this public health crisis,” concludes the doctor.