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The study is “important” and its methods “rigorous and valid,” says Frederic Blow, PhD, director of the Addiction Center at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the study. But the data involved only cases in which alcohol was listed as the primary cause of death on the death certificate. “So it is highly likely that many alcohol-involved deaths were not detected—for example, individuals who died of cardiovascular disease but were also heavy drinkers might not have been counted even though their drinking likely contributed to their heart disease,” Blow says.
“I have no doubt that for many individuals who increased their drinking during the pandemic, they will continue that higher level of consumption over the longer term,” says Blow, the University of Michigan researcher. “Therefore, we will likely see many more people who drink excessively in need of treatment, and unfortunately many who will die of alcohol-related causes over the coming few years.”