WHO Reports 2.6 Million Annual Deaths Attributable to Alcohol and Drug Abuse

WHO Reports 2.6 Million Annual Deaths Attributable to Alcohol and Drug Abuse

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report stating that 2.6 million deaths per year are caused by alcohol consumption, accounting for 4.7% of global deaths. Additionally, 0.6 million deaths are attributed to psychoactive drug use.

According to the report, men account for two million alcohol-related deaths and 0.4 million drug-related deaths. The report also highlights that 400 million people worldwide suffer from alcohol and drug use disorders, with 209 million people living with alcohol dependence.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, emphasizes the urgent need to address substance use disorders, which pose a significant burden on individuals, families, and communities. He calls for bold actions to reduce the negative health and social consequences of alcohol consumption and make treatment for substance use disorders accessible and affordable.

The report notes that while some progress has been made in reducing alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall number remains unacceptably high, with 2.6 million deaths in 2019. The European Region and African Region have the highest numbers of alcohol-related deaths.

The report also highlights that alcohol consumption increases the risk of chronic diseases, mental health conditions, and communicable diseases like HIV and TB. Heavy episodic drinking is prevalent among men, and young people aged 23-39 years account for 13% of alcohol-attributable deaths.

Dr. Ghebreyesus stresses that effective treatment options exist, but treatment coverage remains low, ranging from less than 1% to 35% in countries providing data. He calls for intensified actions in eight strategic areas to accelerate progress towards reducing substance use disorders and achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target by 2030.