alcohol abuse

When the coronavirus swept the country, a lot of things government did in response were controversial. Politicians fought over mask-wearing rules and quarantine restrictions.

But one policy, making sure Americans have ready access to alcohol, was truly bipartisan.

"The State Liquor Authority is going to change its rules that will allow bars, restaurants and distilleries to sell their products off-premises," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in mid-March.

Despite the lack of dine-in customers for nearly two and half long months during the shutdown, Darrell Loo of Waldo Thai stayed busy.

Loo is the bar manager for the popular restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., and he credits increased drinking and looser liquor laws during the pandemic for his brisk business. Alcohol also seemed to help his customers deal with all the uncertainty and fear.

"Drinking definitely was a way of coping with it," says Loo. "People did drink a lot more when it happened. I, myself, did drink a lot more."

More Americans are ordering more rounds, and that's leading to more funerals, according to a new study on alcohol-related deaths.

Looking at data from the National Center for Health Statistics, researchers estimate deaths from alcohol-related problems have more than doubled over the past nearly 20 years.

Death certificates spanning 2017 indicate nearly 73,000 people died in the U.S because of liver disease and other alcohol-related illnesses. That is up from just under 36,000 deaths in 1999.

Dr. Elliot Tapper has treated a lot of patients, but this one stood out.

"His whole body was yellow," Tapper remembers. "He could hardly move. It was difficult for him to breathe, and he wasn't eating anything."

The patient was suffering from chronic liver disease. After years of alcohol use, his liver had stopped filtering his blood. Bilirubin, a yellowish waste compound, was building up in his body and changing his skin color.

Disturbing to Tapper, the man was only in his mid-30s – much younger than most liver disease patients.

Neil Smith / Flickr

Bargain booze has become a little more expensive in Scotland, which says it is the first country in the world to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

Two often-overlooked medications might help millions of Americans who abuse alcohol to quit drinking or cut back.

Public health officials, building on a push to treat people who abuse opioids with medications, want physicians to consider using medications to treat alcohol addiction. The drugs can be used in addition to or sometimes in place of peer-support programs, they say.

Jail mugshot

Broward County Judge Gisele Pollack, accused of presiding in court twice while drunk and arrested on charges of driving under the influence, says she should be paid while she is suspended from office and getting treatment for alcoholism.