According to recent estimations, excessive drinking has drained $249 billion from the U.S. economy in 2010, and these costs have been escalating in the past few years.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, were determined by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It appears that total impact of alcohol abuse on the national economy has soared significantly, reaching $249 billion in 2010, the equivalent of $2.05 per drink or $807 per individual.
More than $100 billion of these incurred expenses were paid by the government, according to the experts’ calculations. Across the states, major disparities were identified, alcohol costs being highest in California ($35 billion) and lowest in North Dakota ($488 million).
By comparison, back in 2006, the nation-wide damages resulting from lavish drinking were appraised at approximately $223.5 billion, corresponding to a cost of $1.90 per drink.
“The increase in the costs of excessive drinking from 2006 to 2010 is concerning, particularly given the severe economic recession that occurred during these years”, declared study author Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., head of CDC’s Alcohol Program.
Indeed, the financial burden resulting from this behavior has grown by approximately 2.7% every year, between 2006 and 2010, surpassing the rate of inflation.
Approximately 77% of these expenses were proven to be in direct association with binge drinking, a practice that consists in consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time.
This habit brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels at 0.08 g/dL and normally occurs when people consume around 4-5 drinks in about 2 hours.
When it came to how the costs related to drinking were distributed, the study’s surprising find was that employees that showed up hungover at their office were those that took the biggest toll on the economy.
In descending order, other factors contributing to the staggering costs of over-indulgence in alcohol were: mortality caused by excessive drinking, crime and incarceration, medical care and traffic collisions.
Lower professional effectiveness due to headaches, nausea and other factors related to alcohol consumption has resulted in a total cost of $77 billion back in 2010. Moreover, coupled with absenteeism, this detrimental impact of excessive drinking has amounted to almost $90 billion.
As far as alcohol-related mortality is concerned, approximately 88,000 Americans die each year following alcohol abuse. The CDC reckons that in fact approximately one in ten deaths among those aged between 20 and 64 result from reckless drinking.
While these findings are unsettling, it appears that the impact of alcohol has actually been underestimated by the survey. As study authors caution, assessing the damaging effects of drinking is an extremely demanding endeavor.
The results tend to be imprecise, since it is difficult to put an exact price on a behavior whose consequences are so far-reaching. For example, the research didn’t include “intangible costs” such as the emotional turmoil and mental stress endured by alcohol addicts and their families.
Given these findings, the lead authors recommend undertaking more preventive efforts in order to discourage excessive drinking, so that the national and personal burden related to this behavior can be diminished.
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