In the United States, the third leading preventable cause of death is alcohol, accounting for over 88,000 deaths per year. A study published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information analyzed the relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality rates in Russia. They found that since the early 2000s, overall alcohol consumption and mortality rates in the country significantly declined. The study shows that this decline in drinking in Russia was due to economic factors, government alcohol policies, and changing patterns of alcohol consumption. They utilized data from the Russian Fertility and Mortality Database to review death rates and causes of death, specifically due to alcohol consumption. These causes include liver disease, cardiomyopathy, alcohol poisoning, homicide, and suicide.
The study observed three separate times in Russia’s history, spanning from 1985 to 2017, in which there was a direct link between drinking and mortality. The first instance was between 1985 and 1987 when there was an anti-alcohol campaign initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, which led to a decrease in alcohol use and, therefore, mortality rates. When this campaign was repealed in 1990, mortality rates increased along with alcohol consumption. Between 1995 and 1998, Russia’s economy weakened, leading to a decline in alcohol use and decreased mortality rates. However, in 1998, Russia’s economy became stronger, which again led to increased drinking and mortality rates. From 2003 to the present day, many government policies aimed at alcohol consumption, such as restricting locations and hours of alcohol sales, increases in prices and taxes on alcohol, and bans on public drinking have led to a consistent decrease in alcohol use and mortality rates. Consequently, today in Russia, the life expectancy for men is over six years longer and almost five years longer for women than it was in 1980.
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Although this study cannot prove that decreases in alcohol consumption directly lead to improving life expectancy through lower mortality rates, the link is apparent and strong. Alcohol use, and therefore alcoholism, is a widespread issue that affects the world. Learning from other countries, statistics on these matters can help us enact lasting change. There is hope for a better future. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to long-lasting recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 817-381-9741 or visit us online.