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Alcohol-Related Deaths Increase During Pandemic

Stress continues to be associated with alcohol-related health problems. The American Psychological Association Stress in America survey conducted in February 2022 revealed that 23% of Americans surveyed report drinking more alcohol during the pandemic to cope with stress. Men were more likely to report an increase in drinking (25%) compared to women (20%). The survey noted the mounting stressors that are causing distress for many, including the conflict In Ukraine and financial concerns.

Increased stress has many effects on health and wellness. A new study reports a dramatic increase in alcohol-related deaths between 2019 and 2020—estimated at around 25%–with increases across age groups, and similar rates reported for females and males. These death rates include people who died from opioid overdose where alcohol was a contributing cause, with that increase in mortality calculated at 40%. Overall, COVID-19 was considered a cause of death for only a small proportion of the alcohol-related deaths.

Alcohol-related deaths are just one consequence of the trend towards increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic. In addition, increases are noted in alcohol-related emergencies and illnesses, along with changes in access to and delivery of treatment and supports. These factors raise the very real possibility that the effects of alcohol consumption during the pandemic are likely to have continued long-term consequences on many people in society and healthcare systems overall.

It is important for available services, supports, and resources to help people find other ways to manage stress besides alcohol. Self-help access to treatment should be more readily available and research is needed to help people find wellness strategies and approaches to manage stress instead of consuming alcohol, which can have such harmful physical, emotional, social, and financial impacts on quality of life and lifespan.

Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies.


American Psychological Association (2022, March 10). Stress in America: Money, inflation, war pile on to nation stuck in COVID-19 survival mode.

White, A. M., Castle, I-J. P., et al. (2022, March 18). Alcohol-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA. Advance online publication. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.4308