By: Julie Ricevuto

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Alcoholism is killing Americans at record rates that haven’t been seen in the past 35 years, a new federal report confirms.

With an increase of alcohol-related deaths up by 37% since 2002, alcoholism has swiftly become the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Alcohol-induced issues such as alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis have killed more than 30,700 Americans in 2014, the Washington Post reports.

To put these numbers into perspective, alcohol has killed more people than overdoses from prescription painkillers and heroin combined, which were previously considered more of a threat, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These numbers do not include deaths caused by drunk driving accidents or homicides/suicides committed while intoxicated.

Duke University professor, Philip J. Cook, who studies alcohol consumption, wrote to The Washington Post about these staggering findings, “Since the prevalence of heavy drinking tends to follow closely with per capita consumption, it is likely that one explanation for the growth in alcohol-related deaths is that more people are drinking more.”

Statistics gathered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration back up Cook’s claim that the rise in alcohol consumption has impacted the rate of alcohol-related deaths. It turns out, the number of American’s who consume alcohol at least monthly increased from 54.9% to 56.9% between 2002 and 2014. This may seem like a small increase, but the effects are still significant.

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