Excessive Drinking Cost $223.5 Billion in 2006

By Brunk, Doug | Clinical Psychiatry News, November 2011 | Go to article overview

Excessive Drinking Cost $223.5 Billion in 2006


Brunk, Doug, Clinical Psychiatry News


FROM THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE

In 2006, the overall costs from excessive drinking in the United States reached $223.5 billion, according to findings from a new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"That amounts to almost $750 for every person in the country, or about $1.90 per drink," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said during a teleconference.

Nearly three-quarters of the $223.5 billion price tag was tied to losses in workplace activity (72%), followed by health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11%), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses (9%), motor vehicle crash costs (6%), and other effects (2%).

"While we know that excess drinking is not a new public health problem, we recognize that it has been at times easy to lose sight of the enormous impact it has on our lives and on our wallets, because binge drinking results in binge spending - not only by the person who drinks but also for families, communities, and society," Dr. Frieden said. "There are substantial costs to all of us.

"The harms of heavy drinking are far-reaching and include many different aspects of our society chronic health problems such as cirrhosis of the liver; inflammation of the pancreas; cancer; high blood pressure; mental health problems; injuries such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, burns, and violence-including child maltreatment, homicide, suicide, and domestic violence."

For the study which appeared online Oct. 17 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Ellen E. Bouchery and her colleagues gathered national data from multiple sources, including the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Application, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol-Related Conditions, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in an effort to estimate the costs resulting from excessive drinking in 2006, the most recent year for which data were generally available.

A previous study by The Lewin Group, a consulting firm based in Falls Church, Va., found that the cost of alcohol misuse in the United States was about $185 billion in 1998.

In the current study, entitled "Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006,' Ms. Bouchery and her colleagues defined excessive alcohol consumption as binge drinking (four or more drinks per occasion for a woman, and five or more drinks per occasion for a man); heavy drinking (more than one drink per day on average for a woman, and more than two drinks per day on average for a man); and any alcohol consumption by pregnant women or underage youth. …

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