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Newsweek: Alcohol Abuse Increased During COVID Pandemic, Study Shows

Newsweek recently covered a study led by Cedars-Sinai investigator Yee Hui Yeo, MD, MSc, about the increase in alcohol-related deaths and alcohol use among people of all ages during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yeo and his team wanted to shed light on deaths related to alcohol use and alcohol disorder during the pandemic. Their research ultimately showed a higher mortality rate from the use or abuse of alcohol during 2020 and 2021.

“What we found in our analysis reflects what we had been seeing anecdotally in our patients and in academic papers tracking complications like alcohol-related liver disease,” Yeo said in the article, which also was published by Zenger News.

The researchers obtained mortality data for seven years beginning in 2012 from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database that tracks most deaths in the U.S. They used predictive modeling to estimate mortality rates for 2020 and 2021 based on alcohol-related deaths from the previous years.

The study found that in 2020, actual alcohol use disorder-related deaths were 25% higher than the projected rates. In 2021, the rates were about 22% higher than projected. Though older adults accounted for most of the deaths during the pandemic, the largest increase happened among younger adults ages 25-44 years. “Alcohol use disorder is often underreported, so actual mortality rates related to alcohol use may be even higher than reported,” Yeo said in the article.

The study authors wanted to alert policymakers that patients who die from alcohol-related causes tend to have social determinants of health, such as lower socioeconomic status, that can make it harder for them to access healthcare and help. “We want to make sure that patients who do seek treatment for alcohol or substance use have access to follow-up care to prevent secondary complications,” Yeo said in the article.

Click here to read the story from Newsweek.