By German Lopez for Vox. As the country deals with a rise in opioid painkiller and heroin overdose deaths, a drug that already kills more people is causing more and more deaths each year: alcohol.
According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after controlling for age, the alcohol-induced death rate reached 8.5 per 100,000 people in 2014, up from 7.1 in 1999 and 7 in 2006.
As a result, nearly 31,000 people died by alcohol in 2014, up from 22,000 in 2006. That means more people died to alcohol in 2014 than the nearly 29,000 who died from opioid — including heroin — overdoses, but fewer than the nearly 34,000 who died to gun violence or car crashes that same year.
Still, the 2014 data likely under-counts alcohol-related deaths, since it only includes deaths induced directly by alcohol, like liver cirrhosis. It doesn’t include deaths from drunk driving, other accidents, and homicides committed under the influence (alcohol is linked to 40 percent of violent crimes). Counting those deaths, alcohol’s death toll in the US reached 88,000, according to the CDC — and that’s before accounting for the recent rise in alcohol-induced deaths shown in the chart above. All together, this puts alcohol behind only tobacco, which is by far the deadliest drug in the US, in terms of total drug deaths.