The Washington Post

Alcohol shaves about 3 days off each American’s life each year


(Darker shading represents states where more years are lost to alcohol, per 100,000 residents.)

When a working-age adult dies, there’s a 1 in 10 chance that alcohol was to blame, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report analyzing survey data from 2006 to 2010. But even among the living, millions of years of life are lost annually due to the effects of drinking.

Our colleagues over at Wonkblog and To Your Health have covered the details of the new report that quantifies the toll alcohol takes on American’s lives, but we thought it was worth breaking out the data a little more, especially as it relates to years of life lost.

(Note: The interactive map above contains the same data as the two maps below.)

Americans lose 2,560,290 years of potential life to drinking annually

Americans lose 2.56 million years of potential life each year due to alcohol, which translates to about 3 days per person.

New Mexico is far and away the state whose residents suffer most, in terms of years of potential life lost to drinking. There, 1,570 years of life are lost annually per 100,000 people. Alaskans come next with 1,300 years of live lost annually per 100,000. Wyoming, Montana and Mississippi track closely behind.

In New York, 565 years are lost per 100,000, making it the state where alcohol’s toll on residents is smallest. Hawaii is next with 570 years, followed by New Jersey, Massachusetts and Minnesota.


Years lost to alcohol. (Niraj Chokshi, data by CDC)

Some 87,798 Americans die due to alcohol annually

New Mexico leads the list of deaths attributable to alcohol, with 51 deaths per 100,000 people. Alaska came next, again, with 41 deaths. Montana, Wyoming and Arizona each followed with roughly 37 deaths each.

New Jersey was best off with 19 deaths. New York came in second with 20, followed by Hawaii, Massachusetts and Connecticut.


Deaths due to alcohol. (Niraj Chokshi, data by CDC)
Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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