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News Release

   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   November 19, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Reports on Alcohol-Related Deaths


TRENTON - When all alcohol-related diseases and injuries are taken into consideration, alcohol is the fifth leading cause of death in New Jersey, according to a special analysis of the state's death data conducted by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and released today.

Men suffer higher death rates from alcohol than do women, mainly due to men's higher rate of alcohol-related injuries through vehicle accidents, suicides, homicides and other causes, according to the department's Center for Health Statistics report.

"Alcohol-Attributable Mortality: New Jersey, 1996-1998" is available on the department's web site at

According to the report, three-fifths of New Jersey adults drink alcohol at least once a month. Three percent are heavy drinkers and 15 percent are binge drinkers, consuming five or more drinks on one occasion. Males consume more than females at all levels of alcohol consumption, which follows the national pattern as measured by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

An estimated 2,700 residents -- nearly two-thirds of them men -- died annually because of alcohol. About 1,850 died from diseases caused by the effects of prolonged use of alcohol, such as alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver, and the remainder died as a result of injuries caused by their use or another's use of alcohol.

Alcohol is not typically considered in analyses of leading causes of death. However, the department used a statistical method developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to estimate alcohol's true impact on death rates. Alcohol ranked fifth after heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) diseases.

The report also estimated that if no one drank alcohol, deaths due to cirrhosis would decrease by more than 65 percent, homicides would drop more than 40 percent, and suicide and unintentional injury deaths would each decrease by more than 25 percent.

"New Jersey has a wide range of programs in place to reduce alcohol's impact on the health of the state's residents," said Health and Senior Services acting Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, Jr. M.D. "The department is working to prevent initiation of alcohol use, to support treatment services for those who want to stop drinking, and to protect the public from intoxicated drivers."

The department's Division of Addiction Services makes available $87 million in grant funding each year to support treatment and prevention services around the state. In addition, acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco signed legislation earlier this year that provides increased funding for treatment services for those convicted of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to treatment, but who cannot pay for their own treatment. The law provides for an additional $1.5 million the first year, increasing each year to $7.5 million a year after five years, then remaining at $7.5 million in each subsequent year.

This report is one in a series on selected topics in health statistics. Other reports discussed multiple births, low birth weight, and infant mortality; changes in the method of age standardization of death rates; trends in places of death; smoking mortality; obesity; and health disparities by race and ethnicity.

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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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