Wisconsin alcohol deaths up 25%

Alcohol-related deaths in Wisconsin rose almost 25% in 2020, according to a report released Thursday.

Data compiled by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum shows 1,077 Wisconsin residents died of alcohol-related causes in 2020, up from 865 in 2019. The data was compiled from U.S. residents’ death certificates.

The report uses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s definition of alcohol-related deaths to mean deaths directly attributed to excessive drinking such as alcohol poisoning and liver disease. The definition does not include deaths caused by drunken driving or alcohol-fueled violence.

Overall, Wisconsin residents died from alcohol-related causes at a rate nearly 25% higher than the nationwide rate in 2020.

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The report speculates that the increase in deaths may be driving by higher rates of binge-drinking in Wisconsin and the state’s history of high alcohol consumption. Alcohol use also has risen considerably amid the stress and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report noted.

Researchers note Wisconsinites are buying and consuming more alcohol and these trends are likely to continue.

Wine glasses


"We all understand the stress we’ve been under since 2020," said Mark Sommerhauser, Wisconsin Policy Form communications director. "Stress can obviously be a contributing factor to substance use, and in some cases, substance abuse.  It’s difficult to pinpoint any one thing."

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