Alcohol use disorder (AUD)-related mortality rates increased among all ages and both sexes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a research letter published online May 4 in JAMA Network Open.
Yee Hui Yeo, M.D., from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues used deidentified data from the National Vital Statistics System to assess AUD-related mortality rates in the United States from 2012 to 2021.
The researchers found 343,384 AUD-related deaths between 2012 and 2021, with 16.6 percent occurring among those 25 to 44 years, 56 percent among those 45 to 64 years, and 27.4 percent among those 65 years and older. More than three-quarters of the AUD-related deaths occurred in men (77.7 percent). There was a surge in AUD mortality both overall and among all subgroups during the pandemic when comparing observed and projected rates (an increase of 24.79 percent in 2020 and 21.95 percent in 2021 over projected rates). Increases in AUD mortality were largest among those 25 to 44 years, but similar for both sexes.
“Our findings suggest that the pandemic may have had a disproportionate association with AUD-related deaths and subgroups with high vulnerability and that tailored strategies are needed for AUD prevention and intervention to combat this public health crisis,” the authors write.
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