While most people worry about adolescents' and young adults' drinking habits, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found alcohol poisoning deaths mainly affect people over the age of 35.
The CDC's most recent report on alcohol poisoning deaths released in January found an average of six people died from alcohol each day between 2010 and 2012. Of those who died from alcohol poisoning, 76 percent were between the ages of 35 and 64 and 76 percent were men. Additionally, those who died from alcohol poisoning were 68 percent non-Hispanic people, 15 percent Hispanic and 9 percent Black.
The CDC also found alcohol poisoning deaths varied greatly by location, which could be influenced by religion, local laws and other cultural factors. Eight of the 10 states with the highest number of alcohol poisoning deaths between 2010 and 2012 are in the West, including Alaska, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, New Mexico and Arizona.
What is alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking an immense amount of alcohol in a short period of time, according to the Mayo Clinic. This action can affect a person's heart rate, body temperature and breathing. Signs of alcohol poisoning are slurred speech, decreased judgment, reduced muscle control, and coordination, vomiting and reduced levels of consciousness, which can lead to comas. How much alcohol is too much too fast will depend on the individual and is affected by sex and weight.
Will binge drinking lead to poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning can occur from binge drinking, which the CDC defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men at one occasion. Binge drinking is not uncommon, according to CDC stats. The centers latest findings uncovered 38 million American adults report binge drinking an average of eight drinks about four times a month.
"That's one of the reasons why we think alcohol-poisoning deaths are such an important indicator of the work we need to do to prevent binge drinking," said CDC Alcohol Program Lead Dr. Robert Brewer, NBC News reported. "If we could eliminate binge drinking, we would dramatically reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning."
Is poisoning related to alcoholism?
Many may be surprised to learn it is not common for those who die from alcohol poisoning to be alcoholics. The CDC's recent and previous findings uncovered that a majority of binge drinking is not related to alcohol dependency and for most alcohol poisoning deaths, dependency was not listed as a contributing cause on the death certificate.