Excessive Alcohol use Continues to be Drain on American Economy
October 15, 2015 - 10:40 PM
Excessive alcohol use continues to be a drain on the American
economy, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). Excessive drinking cost the U.S. $249
billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, a significant increase from $223.5
billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006. Most of these costs were due to
reduced workplace productivity, crime, and the cost of treating people
for health problems caused by excessive drinking.
Binge drinking, defined as drinking five or more drinks on one
occasion for men or four or more drinks on one occasion for women, was
responsible for most of these costs (77 percent). Two of every 5 dollars
of costs -- over $100 billion -- were paid by governments.
“The increase in the costs of excessive drinking from 2006 to 2010 is
concerning, particularly given the severe economic recession that
occurred during these years,” said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., head
of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the study’s authors. “Effective
prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in
states and communities, but they are under used.”
Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 88,000
deaths each year, including 1 in 10 deaths among working-age Americans
Excessive alcohol use cost states and the District of Columbia a
median of $3.5 billion in 2010, ranging from $488 million in North
Dakota to $35 billion in California. Washington D.C. had the highest
cost per person ($1,526, compared to the $807 national average), and New
Mexico had the highest cost per drink ($2.77, compared to the $2.05
The 2010 cost estimates were based on changes in the occurrence of
alcohol-related problems and the cost of paying for them since 2006.
Even so, the researchers believe that the study underestimates the cost
of excessive drinking because information on alcohol is often
underreported or unavailable, and the study did not include other costs,
such as pain and suffering due to alcohol-attributable harms.
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