Report finds alcohol-related deaths in 2020 up 25% in Wisconsin

More than 1,000 alcohol-related deaths in Wisconsin in 2020
More than 1,000 alcohol-related deaths in Wisconsin in 2020(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:42 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:45 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A new report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum shows alcohol-related deaths in Wisconsin rising nearly 25% in 2020. That’s higher than the national average, and the state’s largest one-year increase in more than 20 years.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum researched data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finding more than 1,000 people in Wisconsin died of alcohol-related causes in 2020, nearly 200 more than 2019.

Middle-aged Wisconsinites, ages 45 to 64, saw the biggest increase, reaching a rate of more than 40 deaths every 100,000 people.

“The pandemic obviously starting in 2020 seems to have just sort of exacerbated a trend that was already underway,” said Mark Sommerhauser, communications cirector and researcher for the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

Both in Wisconsin and nationwide, minority groups experienced higher rates of alcohol-related deaths.

“Black Wisconsinites death rate dipped above those of white Wisconsinites death rate in 2019. They’re back below it in 2020, but they’re hovering right around the same area and that is very different from what’s happening nationwide where rates for black Americans remain far below those for white Americans,” said Ari Brown, researcher for the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

The Policy Forum suggests implementing a higher tax rate or prices on alcohol to reduce consumption. As well as allocating more funding to prevention, intervention, and alcohol abuse treatment efforts.

“To put some more resources into funding some of the programs, whether it’s non-profits, or state programs, or local programs that do work with people that are battling alcohol addiction, that do some efforts around prevention, that hopefully keep people from becoming addicted to alcohol,” said Sommerhauser.

Libertas Treatment Center in Green Bay says every day it’s treating at least 2 or 3 individuals struggling with alcohol dependence. It believes the pandemic is largely to blame.

“So many people that maybe have had a long history of drinking until these last few years, and they’ve started and now they don’t know how to stop it, or make a change or slow it down,” said Joelle Hesse, a substance abuse counselor at Libertas Treatment Center.

For alcohol treatment resources, click here.

Links to area treatment centers:

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