More Evidence Suggests Drinking Leads to Accidents, Hospitalization, and Death

Man with a cast at home

Given that alcohol-related injuries are one of the most accurate predictors of death within the next year, family members of individuals who suffer an alcohol-related injury should do everything they can to get their loved one's help.

What the Findings Show

According to research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, people who become injured while intoxicated and who require hospital treatment are five times more likely to die in the coming year.

The research outlines how alcohol-related injuries are one of the most, if not the most, serious side effects of drinking to excess. Lead researcher Sidra Goldman-Mellor, an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, spoke to this point. She said, “Injuries are one of the most immediate hazards of problematic drinking behavior. In addition to getting injured from things like car accidents and falls, some people may get injured in fights or even engage in self-harm after they’ve been drinking.” Ultimately, Goldman-Mellor’s research showed that people injured once from alcohol-related injuries are extremely likely to experience such harm again and potentially even die from such harm.

To arrive at their findings, Goldman-Mellor and her researchers looked at 10 million visits to emergency rooms between 2009 and 2012 by California residents ages ten and older. Of those, the researchers found that more than 262,000 had:

  • An injury that wasn’t fatal and,
  • A diagnosis of alcohol use disorder or a state of intoxication at the time of injury

According to the data, 77% of the injuries were unintentional. About 13% were due to an assault, 8% to self-harm, and 2% to an undetermined cause.

Injured man is in a hospital, attended by the doctors and nurses

Shockingly, more than 13,000 of the 262,000 individuals who suffered an alcohol-related injury necessitating a trip to the ER ended up dying within 12 months of their hospital visit, representing 5% of the group. The death rate was nearly 5,205 per 100,000, more than 6X higher than the average annual Californian death rate per 100,000 (705.3).

In concluding her research, Goldman-Mellor spoke about how hospitals provide an ideal setting for intervening if someone is suffering from a drinking problem. Hospitals can and should refer alcohol addicts to qualified, residential addiction treatment programs. “Most people who struggle with alcohol misuse don’t get the help they need. Hopefully, studies like ours can be used to increase resources for getting all such patients connected with comprehensive care, both for their substance use and general health,” said Goldman-Mellor.

Alcohol Consumption Poses Harm, No Matter How Much One Drinks

It’s important to note that getting into an accident or becoming injured because one has been drinking alcohol is not the first or only indicator of alcohol-related harm. A massive body of research has been gathered in the past several years that suggests no amount of alcohol is good for you, and any amount of alcohol increases the drinker’s risk of harmful health conditions like cancer, lost cognitive abilities, brain damage, cardiovascular complications, and life-threatening liver disease.

Finally, and especially considering the still-recent experience with the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans should know that alcohol consumption has been found to significantly reduce the human body’s immune function, particularly while the individual is consuming alcohol and in the 24 hours following consumption.

The Importance of Seeking Help for Loved Ones Misusing Alcohol

Helping husband

The fact that one alcohol-related accident or injury that lands an individual in the hospital makes them statistically five times more likely to die in the coming year than the average American is quite a sobering thought. The finding speaks to the extreme risk people take when they drink excessively, and it shows just how harmful alcohol is despite the normalization of alcohol consumption in American culture.

Given the risks people take when they drink to excess, family members and loved ones of individuals who do this must take it upon themselves to seek help for their loved ones. Qualified residential addiction treatment centers can provide recovering addicts with the tools, resources, environment, and support they need to overcome their drinking problem and find healthy, responsible ways of coping with life.


  • JSAD. “Mortality Risk Following Nonfatal Injuries With Alcohol Use Disorder Involvement: A One-Year Follow-Up of Emergency Department Patients Using Linked Administrative Data.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2022.
  • USNews. “Odds for Early Death Rise After Severe Injury Linked to Alcohol.” U.S. News, 2022.
  • KFF. “Number of Deaths per 100,000 Population.” Kaiser Family Foundation, 2022.
  • AARP. “Is Alcohol Really Good for Your Health?” American Association of Retired Persons, 2022.
  • Guardian. “Any amount of alcohol consumption harmful to the brain, finds study.” The Guardian, 2021.
  • NIAAA. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2022.


Editorial Staff