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Alcohol responsible for 1 in 7 deaths among CO adults

The CDC says alcohol is a main factor in 1 of 7 deaths among Colorado adults between the ages of 20 and 64.

DENVER - The Centers for Disease Control is introducing new data that shows alcohol is a main factor in one of seven deaths among Colorado adults between the ages of 20 years old and 64 years old. At 14.2 percent, the alcohol-related death rate among working-age adults in Colorado is higher than the national average of one in ten, or 9.8 percent.

Between 2006 and 2010, the CDC says 8,429 working-age adults died in Colorado. Of those, 1,200 were alcohol-attributable deaths.

While experts admit the numbers are alarming, addiction specialist Dr. Patrick Fehling says he isn't surprised.

"In some ways, as an aggregate health problem, there is so much morbidity and harm that's caused by severe alcohol use in this country that even though the 'one in ten' number is very high, we can understand that," he said.

Fehling is an addiction specialist at the University of Colorado Hospital and at the hospital's Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR).

Jim Soda is an addiction counselor at CeDAR and says alcoholism is easily ignored because the negative effects aren't always obvious.

"To me, alcohol and marijuana are like this slow decline," he said. "Where like with heroin, and some other drugs, you like fall off the table pretty quick."

He added that too often, those with a problem rationalize or excuse their behavior.

"By the time you know it, you're 35, 36 years old, and you're drinking three to four times per week," Soda said. "You're drinking six to ten drinks, but you don't even think anything of it and nobody else does either."

Read the full story USA Today story here.

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