Alcohol Abuse: States That Binge Drink Pay Big Tolls
According to a recent report, Wisconsin’s binge-drinking problem is costing the state somewhere around $7 billion a year. Surveys show that Wisconsin residents binge drink at a rate of around 25 percent, which is the highest in the nation.
The survey considers having five or more drinks in a sitting as a binge. But the average Wisconsin resident ups the ante and binge drinks on an average of nine beverages per sitting.
A good chunk of the cost to the state, which is $6.8 billion total, comes in the form of lost worker productivity, which accounts for more than one-third of that total. Vehicle accidents, health care costs and court costs make up around another third of the total.
Despite the prevalence of this drinking, the state only generated less than $70 million in taxes on booze, which barely makes up for one percent of the burden that booze puts on the state. Given the popularity of alcohol in the state, voters aren’t going to raise taxes on the product, either. The tax hasn’t changed since the late 1960s.
To break it down into what alcohol abuse is costing each individual resident, experts have put the tab at $1,200 per capita. That includes children. In 2011, it is reported that more than 1,500 residents died in alcohol-related incidents. About 48,000 were hospitalized and another 60,000 were arrested under the influence.