By the Numbers

Alcohol-Related Deaths Continued To Increase in 2021

The figure above shows the number of alcohol-related deaths each month in 2019, 2020, and 2021. The annual total number of deaths increased 25% between 2019 and 2020 (from 78,927 to 99,017). The annual total number increased another 10% between 2020 and 2021 (from 99,017 to 108,791). A death was considered alcohol-related if alcohol was listed in a death certificate as the primary cause (e.g., alcohol-associated liver disease) or a contributing factor (e.g., death from a fall while intoxicated).

Rates of deaths involving alcohol increased by less than 2.5% per year in the two decades leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 25% leap in 2020 was unprecedented. Per capita consumption of alcohol, measured as gallons of pure alcohol per person, increased by 2.9% in 2020. This was the largest increase in more than 50 years, since a 3.4% increase in 1968.

“The fact that alcohol-related deaths continued to climb in 2021 is truly concerning,” said Aaron White, Ph.D., Senior Scientific Advisor to the NIAAA Director. “NIAAA’s hope is that continuing to educate the public and the health care community about the potential health risks of excessive alcohol consumption and that continuing to emphasize the importance of alcohol screening and brief intervention can help bring these numbers down.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [Internet]. National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Data on CDC WONDER. Multiple cause of death, 2018–2021. 2023. [cited 2023 Feb 9]. Available from:

NIAAA. Surveillance report #119: apparent per capita alcohol consumption: national, state, and regional trends, 1977–2020. [cited 2023 Jan 19]. Available from: