MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report finds that alcohol-related deaths in Wisconsin rose almost 25% in 2020.

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum released data Thursday that shows 1,077 Wisconsin residents died of alcohol-related causes in 2020, up from 865 in 2019.

The data was compiled from U.S. residents’ death certificates. The report uses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s definition of alcohol-related deaths to mean deaths directly attributed to excessive drinking such as alcohol poisoning and liver disease.

The definition does not include deaths caused by drunken driving or alcohol-fueled violence.

According to the report, middle-aged Wisconsinites ages 45 through 64, are seeing the biggest impact in alcohol-related deaths.

Researchers believe the higher alcohol-related death rates may be linked to the fact that many alcohol-induced deaths, such as liver disease, typically occur after many years of heavy drinking.

Additionally, experts noted that while all racial and ethnic groups are being impacted by alcohol-induced deaths, American Indian and Alaskan Natives have much higher death rates in this category than any other group.

The report speculates that the overall increase in deaths across the board may be driven by higher rates of binge drinking in Wisconsin and the state’s history of high alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, researchers added that alcohol-induced death rates in Wisconsin are currently above the national average and are expected to keep going in an ‘alarming upward trajectory.’

“With this longstanding problem growing progressively worse, policymakers may wish to prioritize
debate about a comprehensive range of potential responses in 2022,” wrote the Wisconsin Policy Forum.