When the state of Colorado legalized marijuana in 2013, they opened the door to the possibility of an increase in drug-related crashes, injuries, and deaths. But what they might not have realized at the time is that alcohol was going to continue to pose a far greater danger to the people of Colorado and other mountain states.
A study released last year from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that these areas have the highest alcohol-related death rates in the country. In the report, the CDC looked at 54 different causes of death linked to alcohol consumption including motor vehicle crashes, binge-drinking, violence, and alcohol poisoning. Colorado and it’s neighboring states logged some of the most alcohol-related fatalities, coming in several points higher than the national average of 1 in 10 alcohol-related deaths.
Take Colorado’s motor vehicle crash statistics as an example of how alcohol is killing people in the state – according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there were 142 alcohol-related traffic deaths in Colorado in the past year, and that number was up by 6% from the year before. To fight back against the number of drunk driving deaths, lawmakers have passed an all offender ignition interlock law and they now allow a shorter license suspension period for those people who opt to immediately install an ignition interlock after a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction.
The CDC’s findings that excessive drinking is one of the leading causes of premature death for working-age adults is disturbing, especially in states like Colorado where people are literally drinking themselves to death. They recommend all states try to curb alcohol-related deaths by going straight to the source – regulating alcohol stores and increasing state alcohol taxes, so purchasing that bottle of beer or wine becomes harder for those who want to drink it.