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WHO: 3 million die each year from drugs, alcohol


FILE - A patron sips his drink at a bar in New Jersey, Nov. 30, 2017. More than 3 million people die each year from drug- and alcohol-related incidents, the World Health Organization reports.
FILE - A patron sips his drink at a bar in New Jersey, Nov. 30, 2017. More than 3 million people die each year from drug- and alcohol-related incidents, the World Health Organization reports.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there are more than 3 million drug- and alcohol-related deaths annually, most of which are among men.

A report released Tuesday says 2.6 million people (2 million of them men) die from something related to alcohol consumption across the globe each year. Some 600,000 deaths are attributed to psychoactive drug use; 400,000 of these deaths are among men.

About 4.7% of all worldwide deaths are attributed to alcohol consumption. That includes deaths from injuries sustained while intoxicated, such as car crashes, self-harm and communicable diseases such as HIV, which has a higher transmission risk when paired with alcohol consumption.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that alcohol-related deaths have decreased since 2010 but that the number "remains unacceptably high."

"While we have seen a slight increase in the number of countries adopting national alcohol policies, little progress has been made in implementing the high-impact policy interventions proven to reduce alcohol-related harm, such as impactful pricing policies or comprehensive marketing and availability restrictions," Tedros said in the report's foreword.

The United Nations launched sustainable development goals (SDG) in 2015 that serve as a "blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet."

WHO recommends action to accelerate progress toward the goal of reducing alcohol- and drug-related deaths, including:

  • Increase awareness through a coordinated global campaign;
  • Strengthen the capacity of prevention treatment in social and health care systems;
  • Work on international efforts involving capacity-building and transferring knowledge;
  • Engage with civil society organizations, along with professional associations and people with lived experiences with substance use disorders and conditions;
  • Increase efforts to scale up the mobilization of resources, allocation and innovative funding mechanisms.


Tedros said the U.N. is not on track to achieve significant progress on SDG goals "unless we accelerate action now."

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