The percentage by which the "number and rate of alcohol-related deaths increased...between 2019 and 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic," according to an article published this spring in JAMA -- Alcohol-Related Deaths During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Rates increased prior to the pandemic, but less rapidly (2.2% mean annual percent change between 1999 and 20174). The rate increase for alcohol-related deaths in 2020 outpaced the increase in all-cause mortality, which was 16.6%.
Deaths involving alcohol reflect hidden tolls of the pandemic. Increased drinking to cope with pandemic-related stressors, shifting alcohol policies, and disrupted treatment access are all possible contributing factors.1 Whether alcohol-related deaths will decline as the pandemic wanes, and whether policy changes could help reduce such deaths, warrants consideration.