CDC research measures economic cost of heavy drinking in the US

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th November 2011

A newly-published study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has shown the cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States in 2006 reached US$223.5 billion, or about US$1.90 per drink.

Almost three–quarters of these costs were due to binge drinking, consuming four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women or five or more drinks per occasion for men, the report said.

Excessive alcohol consumption, or heavy drinking, is defined by the CDC as “consuming an average of more than one  alcoholic beverage per day for women, and an average of more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men, and any drinking by pregnant women or underage youth”.

The CDC study, “Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006,” was published in the November 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The researchers analysed national data from sources including 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 relevant data were available.

The researchers said they found the costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 per cent of the total cost), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11 per cent of the total cost), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 per cent of the total cost), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 per cent of the total cost).

Overall, researchers found that about US$94.2 billion (42 per cent) of the total economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption were borne by federal, state, and local governments while US$92.9 billion (41.5 per cent) was borne by excessive drinkers and their family members.