On November 1, 2022, the JAMA Network Journals of the American Medical Association published an article suggesting that an estimated 20.3% of deaths among adults aged 20 to 49 years were attributable to excessive alcohol use and that greater implementation of evidence-based alcohol policies could reduce this proportion. During the 2015-2019 study period, the average deaths of adults aged 20 to 64 years was lower–only 12.9%, but still a number that is far too high if the study’s conclusions are accurate.
Of course, there was a wide range of alcohol–attributable deaths across the country. The range was from 9.3% of total deaths in Mississippi to 21.7% in New Mexico. Deaths due to acute conditions were calculated using direct alcohol-attributable fractions (AAFs) for select acute (e.g., injuries) and chronic (e.g., cancers) conditions based on high blood alcohol concentrations (e.g., ≥0.10 g/dL). Interestingly, the legal (per se) limit of blood alcohol established for driving under the influence in 49/50 states is .08%.
So how is “excessive alcohol consumption” defined? In summary, the researchers estimated deaths due to excessive alcohol consumption; therefore, “for chronic conditions, the adjusted prevalence of medium (>1 to ≤2 alcoholic drinks for women or >2 to ≤4 drinks for men) and high (>2 alcoholic drinks for women or >4 drinks for men) mean daily alcohol consumption … were applied to relative risks to generate cause-specific AAFs.”
As a general rule, a “drink” is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Although other studies indicate that regularly consuming a moderate amount of alcohol may be beneficial for one’s health, it appears it is important not to overindulge for both health reasons and legal reasons.
About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD). Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve has served as Dean of the NCDD and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee.
He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 9th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen). Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions. He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and six foreign countries. After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website at www.tndui.com.