DENVER — On Tuesday, Well Being Trust, a national foundation that studies mental health and substance issues, released a new study that found alcohol consumption-related deaths have increased by 13% in Colorado.
According to the foundation, the latest numbers are from 2019 and are compared to statistics from 2018.
Researchers said the reasons for the increase in deaths may be attributed to a number of factors.
“With alcohol, it’s something that we have socialized and normalized a bit more in our society than we have other aspects of our mental health,” said Dr. Ben Miller with Well Being Trust. “We’re not likely to talk about heroin as much as we are to talk about bourbon.”
Miller said other factors include alcohol consumption starting at a young age and an increase in the number of drinks the average adult consumes daily.
But Miller said there are steps that can be taken to begin addressing the disturbing trend.
“Sometimes one of the most powerful interventions is to ask someone if they’re OK. If you see one of your friends or your colleagues that’s drinking too much, say something to them about it,” Miller said.
Miller also suggests state leaders can help implement preventative measures and programs as well as increase access to treatment.
“We’ve got to make treatment a lot easier to access. Only about one in nine folks that have an identified substance abuse disorder are able to get care and that’s absolutely unacceptable. We need to be able to make sure that mental health and addiction services are available wherever people show up,” Miller said.
Miller said the pandemic could have a very large impact on the number of alcohol-related deaths.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is already showing an increase in drug overdose deaths.
The statistics for alcohol-related deaths have not been released yet but Miller predicts we could see yet another disturbing trend given the isolation and other stresses that people have experienced over the past year.