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Contrary to popular belief, most people who die of alcohol poisoning, also known as alcohol overdose, are not alcoholics. In fact, alcohol dependence is only a factor in about 30 percent of alcohol poisoning deaths.
On average, six people die of alcohol poisoning each day in the United States.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes a large amount of alcohol, usually in a short amount of time, and their blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches a toxic level. The high level of alcohol in their bloodstream causes the areas of the brain that control basic life-supporting functions—breathing, heart rate and body temperature—to shut down. This can lead to death.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that shed light on our nation’s binge drinking problem in relation to the number of alcohol poisoning deaths. The report revealed that most alcohol overdose deaths are among males aged 35 to 64. The report also broke down the rate of alcohol poisoning deaths by state.
States with the Highest Rates of Alcohol Poisoning Deaths
According to the CDC’s study, Alaska had the highest alcohol poisoning death rate with 46.5 percent. The study also found that American Indians/Alaska Natives have the most alcohol overdose deaths per million people of any race. According to another report by the CDC, the state of Alaska ranked in the top ten among states with the highest amounts of binge and heavy drinking with 21.2 percent in 2010.
2. New Mexico
New Mexico came in second on the CDC’s report with an alcohol overdose death rate of 32.7 percent. However, New Mexico had one of the lowest rates of binge and heavy drinking with only 14.2 percent.
3. Rhode Island
With 22.8 percent, Rhode Island had the third highest rate of alcohol poisoning deaths per million people. Rhode Island had slightly above the median rate of binge and heavy drinking with 18.2 percent.
Arizona had the fourth highest with an alcohol poisoning death rate of 18.7 percent. Like Rhode Island, Arizona fell above the median with 18.6 percent, but was not one of the states with the highest rates of binge and heavy drinking.
Just slightly less than Arizona, Wyoming came in fifth with an alcohol overdose death rate of 17.7 percent. Wyoming fell below the median rate of heavy and binge drinking with 16.9 percent.
Percentage of Overdose Deaths, Binge Drinking by State
As you can see from the data, alcohol poisoning death rates and rates of binge and heavy drinking don’t always correlate. The reasons for high alcohol poisoning death rates in states where alcohol abuse is not prevalent is unknown.
How to Help Someone With Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning can be deadly, but knowing the warning signs may help you save someone’s life. The signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Irregular or slow breathing
- Bluish skin color or paleness
- Mental confusion
- Inability to wake up
If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 or seek medical help immediately. A person does not have to present all of the symptoms to have alcohol poisoning. The earlier they can get help, the better.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, please call us now.
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