Wednesday June 19th 2019

The costs of alcohol use

Excessive alcohol use continues to be a drain on the American economy, according to a study recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Excessive drinking costs the United States $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 expense 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 five 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, head of the 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 20-64 years old.

Excessive alcohol use costs 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, DC, 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 national average).

The study, “2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption,” is available at www.ajpmonline.org/content/infoformedia. For more information: www.cdc.gov/alcohol.

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