Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission discusses increases in alcohol-involved deaths

Officials say it's good to get out of the office.
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:09 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission is responsible for policies regarding liquor licensing and regulations in the state.

The commission usually meets in Des Moines but this year they are moving their meetings around the state.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission meets Thursday at the Full-Fledged Brewing Company in Council Bluffs. Officials say it’s good to get out of the office.

“The last couple of years we’ve kind of been cooped up because of COVID and joining virtually this year we’re looking to get out on the road,” said Denise Roberg, Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division.

One of the topics discussed at today’s meeting was the increase in the number of alcohol-involved deaths in the state.

“I think it’s really important this meeting is in Council Bluffs in our area I think that’s really great that they drove all the way from Des Moines to have this meeting here and I think certainly looking at this issue from a public health perspective is really important for us, it’s not about being anti-business or anti-industry or anti-alcohol of us it’s about partnering together and collaborating to prevent alcohol-involved deaths.”

The report points out the number of alcohol-involved deaths in Iowa is rising.

Lorelle Mueting is the Prevention Director with Heartland Family Services.

“I think in the beginning of the pandemic we saw a lot of on social media and in the papers like hey come on over let’s do some day drinking on the driveway, right, we have nothing to do we’re not working, we’re not going to work, the world is kind of shut down,” said Mueting.

Lorelle will discuss a study from the Iowa Department of Public Health with commissioners that points out an increasing number of Iowans are having issues with alcohol and she believes the pandemic plays a major role in the increased number of alcohol-related deaths.

“The pandemic caused a lot of mental health issues for people and alcohol has traditionally been a way that people cope with stress, anxiety, depression things like that and so I think that one of the reasons we’re seeing this increase in alcohol-involved deaths, I think we’re also seeing an increase in addiction,” said Mueting.

Officials say middle-aged adults are leading the increase in alcohol-involved deaths.

Lorelle says she really wasn’t surprised the report revealed at least 760 lives lost due to alcohol-involved cases in 2020, up from 598 deaths in 2019.

“I wish that I could say yes but it kind of seemed like that was going to happen as we continued to carry on through the pandemic and I know we’re talking about alcohol in adults but I think for our youth we’ve seen our youth who are vaping their way through this pandemic.”

Iowa officials believe alcohol-involved deaths can be reduced by increasing the price of alcohol and limiting places where you can purchase liquor and beer and continuing public education on the issue.

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