Excessive Drinking Hurting Economy, Study Shows
Heavy drinking is taking a multi-billion dollar toll on the U.S. economy, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Monday.
Data shows $223.5 billion was spent in 2006 on consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption, or about $1.90 per drink. This amount has risen from the $185 billion it cost in 1998, the last time the CDC conducted a similar study.
The bulk of this money – 72 percent – was attributed to “lost workplace productivity.” Health care outlays accounted for another 11 percent, followed by criminal justice expenses and automotive damages caused by impaired drivers.
But what constitutes “excessive” boozing? The CDC defines heavy alcohol consumption as averaging more than one alcoholic beverage a day for women, and more than two a day for men.
However, the majority of the staggering costs were racked up by binge drinkers, who the CDC defines as any woman who consumes four or more drinks per occasion, or any man who consumes at least five.
Federal, state and local governments took a brunt of the hit, picking up $92 billion, or 42 percent, of the total economic cost of excessive alcoholic consumption. Another 41.5 percent was covered by the drinkers and their families.
The study will be released in November in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.