New study shows impact of alcohol on New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alcohol kills New Mexicans at a higher rate than anywhere else in the U.S. and that stat hasn’t changed since 1997.

New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate in the U.S. It sits at 86.6 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 41.5 nationally, in 2020.

An NMDOH study shows alcohol abuse killed more than 1,800 New Mexicans under age 65 in 2020. More people died from that than COVID in the first year of the pandemic.

Excessive alcohol consumption doesn’t just lead to death. It also leads to a long list of health issues: Chronic liver disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

“One in five people die every day from alcohol use. It’s a big thing that I don’t think is being talked about enough,” said Jaren Trost, a doctor with Optum N.M.

Alcohol abuse costs New Mexico more than $2 billion a year. With around 2 million people in the state, that adds up to more than $1,000 in costs per New Mexican each year.

It’s also important to remember alcohol abuse can lead to domestic violence, crime, poverty and unemployment.

Nationally, the most common reason people don’t receive treatment when they need and seek it is because they don’t have health insurance. Therefore, they can’t afford the cost.

However, others simply don’t know they have a problem.

“Are you drinking first thing in the morning? Are you having way too many drinks when you go out? Do you feel hungover a lot more than normal? You know, those are very simple tell-tale signs that you’re drinking too much alcohol. Again, go to your primary care provider because they will be able to talk to you about the different screening, tests and questions that we as physicians ask all the time to our patients,” Dr. Trost explained.

If you or someone you know needs help fighting alcohol addiction, here are some resources: