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Preventable deaths from alcohol use increased in 2020 in Minnesota

New preliminary data show that nearly a thousand Minnesotans died from alcohol use last year.

The preliminary data suggest that factors related to the pandemic may have boosted a decades-long trend of increasing numbers of alcohol-attributable deaths in Minnesota. The number of fully alcohol-attributable deaths increased by one-third between 2000 and 2010, and more than doubled between 2010 and 2020. This includes both chronic causes, such as alcohol-related liver disease, and acute causes, such as alcohol poisoning. In 2020, 992 Minnesotans died from fully alcohol-attributable causes.

“The deaths of so many Minnesotans from alcohol is tragic and preventable,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Sadly, the pandemic has amplified some of the root causes of substance use and substance use disorders, such as social isolation, job loss and lack of access to treatment. In response, we need to strengthen overall opportunities in our communities for connectedness and financial security as well as specific evidence-based community strategies to reduce excessive alcohol use.”

The deaths from alcohol use in 2020 mirrored similar trends to recent years, until the number of alcohol-attributable deaths started to accelerate in June of last year. This mid-year acceleration is thought to be due in part to factors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.