Four green glass bottles dripping with condensation. Image used under CC0.

This week The New York Times covered new research from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that shows there was a 25% increase in alcohol-related deaths between 2019 and 2020.

The new research, published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association last Friday used death certificates to identify all deaths for which alcohol was a primary or contributing cause.

They quote Aaron White, the lead researcher, who says that the sharp increase in deaths may be due to people with substance abuse disorder relapsing on account of pandemic-related stress. At the same time as stress and the risk of relapse increased, the pandemic also decreased access to rehabilitative and support services, putting peoples lives at risk.

To put this increase in perspective: the report shows that more people under sixty-five died from alcohol use in 2020 than from covid-19.

The increase in alcohol-related deaths in 2020 is part of a longer trend of alcohol use increasing among adults over the past fifteen years.