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Economic burden of alcohol abuse in the U.S. revealed

By Tim Sandle     Aug 20, 2013 in Health
Excessive alcohol use causes a large economic burden to states and the District of Columbia, costing an average of $2.9 billion per state, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The U.S. CDC report into excessive alcohol consumption and ‘binge drinking’ relates to data collated in 2006, which is the most recent data reviewed. The report highlights the costs involved in dealing with alcoholism and the differences across various parts of the U.S.
In terms of the major differences between the U.S. states, the highest cost of alcohol abuse was $420 million in North Dakota and the lowest was $32 billion in California. Expressed as the average cost per state for each alcoholic drink consumed, this is $1.91.
Analyzing these figures further, the District of Columbia had the highest per-person cost ($1,662), while Utah had the highest cost per drink ($2.74). Of the various costs, the U.S. government paid about 40 percent of each state’s total spend.
The CDC data has also been used in a report issued by the U.S. Department of Justices, titled “Drinking in America: Myths, Realities, and Prevention Policy.” This report states that costs due to excessive drinking largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses, and other costs due to a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.
The researchers also state that the study’s findings are underestimated because they do 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.
Commenting on the findings overall, Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said that “Excessive alcohol use has devastating impacts on individuals, families, communities, and the economy. In addition to injury, illness, disease, and death, it costs our society billions of dollars through reduced work productivity, increased criminal justice expenses, and higher healthcare costs. Effective prevention programs can support people in making wise choices about drinking alcohol.”
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