Binge Drinking Costs The US Economy A Staggering $224 Billion

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Photo: omnia_mutantur via Flickr

It’s well understood that if you spend a night binge drinking, your next workday is basically shot. As long as you only do it once in a while, it won’t hurt much, right? But according to the centres for Disease Control, every occasion is costing the U.S. dearly. In its latest report, the CDC estimates our country lost $224 billion to excessive drinking in 2006, mostly from binge drinkers reports Reuters. To break it down, that’s $746 per person in the U.S. 

More details from the CDC:

Researchers found the costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 per cent of the total cost), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11 per cent of the total cost), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 per cent of the total cost), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 per cent of the total cost).  The study did not consider a number of other costs such as those due to pain and suffering by the excessive drinker or others who were affected by the drinking, and thus may be an underestimate. Researchers estimated that excessive drinking cost $746 per person in the United States in 2006.

Overall, researchers found that about $94.2 billion (42 per cent) of the total economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption were borne by federal, state, and local governments while $92.9 billion (41.5 per cent) was borne by excessive drinkers and their family members. Government agencies paid most of the health care expenses due to excessive alcohol use (61 per cent), while drinkers and their families bore most of the cost of lost productivity (55 per cent), primarily in the form of lower household income. 

The study, “Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006,” will be published in next month’s edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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