Caitlin Gilbert, David Ovalle and Hanna Zakharenko, The Washington Post »

Recently released federal data underscores their experience: U.S. consumption of alcohol, which had already been increasing for years, accelerated during the pandemic as Americans grappled with stress and isolation.

At the same time, the number of deaths caused by alcohol skyrocketed nationwide, rising more than 45 percent. In 2021, alcohol was the primary cause of death for more than 54,000 Americans, causing nearly 17,000 more deaths than just a few years before, in 2018, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mississippi saw a 159 percent increase in alcohol-related deaths, the nation’s biggest leap, along with a 10 percent rise in apparent consumption. In Delaware, consumption increased the most, by 25 percent, while alcohol-related deaths rose 73 percent.