A report issued last week reveals that Oregon has a rate of alcohol-related deaths that are twice the national average. Per data released by the Trust for America's Health, out of the 50 states, Oregon ranks fifth in alcohol-related deaths, and Washington is 10th.
In fact, more people die each year in Oregon from alcohol than from all other drugs combined, and those alcohol related deaths are on the rise. KATU reports, "The number of alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people has climbed dramatically in Oregon from 31 in 2001 to 43 in 2015. By comparison, in 2015 there were about 12 overdose deaths from all drugs per 100,000 people across the state."
Alcohol plays a sizeable role in homicide, suicides, and vehicle-related deaths as well, but the manner in which alcohol kills isn't as stark as opioid-related deaths. "Deaths from opioids are dramatic. Someone's alive one minute, stops breathing, and is dead a few minutes later," says Paul Lewis MD, the health officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties. "Deaths from things like alcohol are a lot more subtle. They take years to develop and the cause isn't often attributed to alcohol. It's attributed to a liver disease or bleeding or stroke. But the underlying cause is overuse of alcohol."