Tag Archives: CDC

CDC Tallies Alcohol Poisoning Deaths in the U.S.

cdcvsalcapdAccording to U.S. federal health authorities, an average of six Americans die from alcohol poisoning each day. Middle-aged, white males have the highest mortality rates.

The CDC found that an average of 2,221 people died of alcohol poisoning annually between 2010 and 2012. Three-quarters of the deaths occurred among 35- to 64-year-olds, the report found, and about three-quarters were men. Men aged 45 to 54 had the highest death rate.

This is the first study in a decade to tally alcohol poisonings for the entire American population. Most previous studies reviewed certain groups, specifically young people.

“Most previous studies have looked at college kids and young people, but the problem is bigger than that,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, who heads the alcohol program at the C.D.C. “It was surprising that the number of deaths was so concentrated among middle-age adults.”

Native Americans and Native Alaskans had the highest rate of deaths from alcohol poisoning, with 49 deaths per one million people. This is far above the approximately nine deaths per one million people that is the average for the country. The bulk of deaths, 67 percent, were among non-Hispanic whites.

The lowest death rate was in Alabama, followed by Texas, Illinois and Virginia. States with the highest death rates were mostly in the Great Plains and the West, but also included two states in New England, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Blood-alcohol levels rise sharply when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time. Sharply rising blood-alcohol levels overwhelm the body’s ability to respond. Excessive alcohol intake can shut down parts of the brain that control breathing, body temperature and heart rate, causing death.

Such deaths are typically the result of binge drinking at high intensity, the report said. About 38 million adults report binge drinking an average of four times a month, according to the report, but the vast majority of binge drinkers — about 90 percent — are not alcoholics.

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in one “occasion” for women, and five or more drinks for men. Alcohol dependence was a contributing cause in just one-third of the deaths, the report found.

Heroin Deaths Spanning Multiple Ethnicities

heroindeathsA new study came out indicating that Caucasians aged 18-44 were the largest group of people dying from heroin-related causes. This report is a surprise to many, as heroin used to be a drug used almost exclusively by African American and Mexican men just over a decade ago. In the last several years heroin has gained popularity with the younger crowd and has made its way into every race. Heroin is now a drug that is easily accessible by everyone and most common amongst those in the suburbs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) focused on heroin related deaths from 2002 – 2011. They found that in 2002 the highest group of heroin related deaths was among African Americans, aged 45-65 years old. By 2011, Caucasians had surpassed the African American group by more than double.

Researchers have indicated that the increase in painkillers being prescribed may be part of the reason why so many more people are becoming addicted to heroin and subsequently dying from heroin related deaths. Young adults are oftentimes either prescribed narcotic painkillers or obtain them from other people who are prescribed the powerful drug. Once addicted to the pills, addicts often resort to using heroin. Heroin is cheaper and becoming easier to obtain than prescription pain medication.

States all over the country are looking into how they can put a stop to the heroin epidemic that is sweeping through the nation. Many public officials are pointing their fingers at the medical community. Law enforcement and those in government are calling for more strict guidelines when prescribing narcotic painkillers. Many states have instituted a prescription monitoring program that will notify law enforcement and physicians if a person is attempting to obtain more than one prescription for narcotics. This allows doctors to keep an eye on their patients and reduce the risk of over-prescribing.

The medical community and municipalities are fighting back as well. There are several lawsuits being filed against multiple pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuits allege that the drug companies were not forthright with the side effects of many of the painkillers and that salespeople and other representatives failed to fully explain the powerful addictive nature of some of these medications.