(WASHINGTON) – According to a new study from the Center for Disease Control, excessive alcohol consumption cost the U.S. $224 billion dollars in 2006, and most of these costs were due to binge drinking.
The report estimates that excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 79,000 deaths and 2.3 million years of potential life lost in the U.S. each year. The term “binge drinking” is defined as four or more drinks per occasion for a woman, and five or more drinks per occasion for a man; or more than one drink per day for a woman and more than two drinks per day for a man.
The costs come from a variety of factors, the most costly being from losses in workplace productivity, with 72 percent of the total cost. Health care expenses relating to problems due to excessive drinking came in second with 11 percent, and law enforcement was third with nine percent. Motor vehicle crashes were six percent of the total cost.
It should also be noted that the study may be an underestimate because it does not take into account the costs associated with others affected by excessive drinking or the pain and suffering caused by the excessive drinker.
The researchers analyzed 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 to estimate the costs resulting from excessive drinking in 2006, the most recent year for which data were generally available.
As for those footing the bill, researchers found that federal, state and local governments were responsible for around 42 percent of the total economic costs, while 41.5 percent was borne by the excessive drinkers and their family members.
Government agencies paid for around 61 percent of health care expenses while drinkers and their families paid 55 percent of the cost of lost productivity.
The study, “Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006," is published in the November 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The study is developed in collaboration with the CDC and the Lewin Group and was funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to the CDC Foundation.
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