The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States exceeded $223 billion dollars in 2006 - the equivalent of $746 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S - according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Taxpayers pay the largest chunk of these costs, with an estimated $94.2 billion tab billed to government.
Of the total costs, 72.2% ($161 billion dollars) is attributed to lost productivity in the workforce. The remaining costs are attributed to healthcare (11%), criminal justice (9.4%), and effects such as property damage (7.5%). While the CDC has had strong data on premature deaths caused by alcohol consumption (79,000 annually, with an estimated 2.3 million years of potential life lost each year), it last performed an economic cost analysis in 1998, when the annual cost was estimated to be $184.6 billion.
While $223.5 billion dollars is a massive number – almost 3 times what the federal government spent on pre-primary through secondary education in 2010 – the authors of the study believe that it is a substantial understatement of the true costs of alcohol use in the United States. They recommend “effective interventions to reduce excessive alcohol consumption—including increasing alcohol excise taxes, limiting alcohol outlet density, maintaining and enforcing the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years, screening and counseling for alcohol misuse, and specific countermeasures for alcohol- impaired driving such as sobriety checkpoints.” With the national cost of alcohol consumption ringing in at nearly $2 per drink, we could not agree more.
Click here for the article abstract, and here for the CDC's press release.
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