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Alcohol-Related Deaths During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article

Research suggests that alcohol consumption and related harms increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies reported increases in drinking to cope with stress,1 transplants for alcohol-associated liver disease,2 and emergency department visits for alcohol withdrawal.3 We examined mortality data to assess whether alcohol-related deaths increased during the pandemic as well.

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Article Information

Accepted for Publication: March 5, 2022.

Published Online: March 18, 2022. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.4308

Corresponding Author: Aaron M. White, PhD, Office of the Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, 6700B Rockledge Dr, Bethesda, MD 20852 (whitea4@mail.nih.gov).

Author Contributions: Dr White had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: All authors.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: White, Castle, Hingson, Koob.

Drafting of the manuscript: White, Castle, Hingson, Koob.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Castle, Hingson.

Administrative, technical, or material support: White, Koob.

Supervision: White, Hingson, Koob.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Powell reported Pfizer stock ownership outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent the views of the federal government.

Additional Information: All data used in the project are publicly accessible from the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

References
1.
Koob  GF , Powell  P , White  A .  Addiction as a coping response: hyperkatifeia, deaths of despair, and COVID-19.   Am J Psychiatry. 2020;177(11):1031-1037. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.20091375PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
Moon  AM , Curtis  B , Mandrekar  P , Singal  AK , Verna  EC , Fix  OK .  Alcohol-associated liver disease before and after COVID-19-an overview and call for ongoing investigation.   Hepatol Commun. 2021;5(9):1616-1621. doi:10.1002/hep4.1747PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Sharma  RA , Subedi  K , Gbadebo  BM , Wilson  B , Jurkovitz  C , Horton  T .  Alcohol withdrawal rates in hospitalized patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.   JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(3):e210422. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.0422PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
4.
White  AM , Castle  IP , Hingson  RW , Powell  PA .  Using death certificates to explore changes in alcohol-related mortality in the United States, 1999 to 2017.   Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2020;44(1):178-187. doi:10.1111/acer.14239PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
5.
Overdose death rates. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed February 15, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
6.
Castle  IJ , Yi  HY , Hingson  RW , White  AM .  State variation in underreporting of alcohol involvement on death certificates: motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities as an example.   J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2014;75(2):299-312. doi:10.15288/jsad.2014.75.299PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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