Alcohol-Poisoning Deaths among Youths

Although alcohol-poisoning deaths among young people are tragic and highly publicized, they are fortunately very rare, numbering about one-half dozen or so per year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

However, a half-dozen unnecessary deaths is a half-dozen too many. Although that number has dropped dramatically over time, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we must reduce the number even more.

It would appear that the youths most likely to experience problems related to alcohol are those who are those who have the least knowledge and experience with alcohol and drinking. Some of the alcohol-poisoning victims have never consumed alcohol before coming to college or joining the military.

It’s vitally important that young people understand the importance of pacing alcoholic drinks, of eating while drinking, of using designated drivers, and other potentially life-saving information. Alcohol education devoted exclusively to teaching abstinence and refusal skills ignores reality and doesn’t prepare young people to enter the adult world in which most people consume alcohol.

Alcohol education that incorporates harm reduction would save lives.


  • Hall, R. While rare, underage deaths from alcohol poisoning point to concerns over binge drinking, Kalamazoo Gazette, April 18, 2005.