The High Cost of Alcohol Abuse in the U.S.
The cost of alcohol abuse in families is high. Broken marriages, physical abuse, emotional instability, health problems and unemployment are all possible consequences of the excessive abuse of alcohol.
Beyond the circle of family and friends, alcohol abuse has detrimentally impacted the entire country. According to a study published by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), data from 2006 shows that excessive alcohol abuse cost the U.S. $223.5 billion.
The repercussions of binge drinking accounted for 76 percent of those costs. Binge drinking, as defined by the CDC, is consuming five or more alcoholic drinks during one occasion for men, and consuming four or more drinks for women.
The social group found to be most responsible for these costs were Caucasian males ages 18 to 34, with household incomes of $75,000 or more. Although this group may include some college students, it proves that it goes far beyond that population. According to the CDC, more than 30 million people engage in binge drinking, which cost each U.S. man, woman, and child $746 in 2006.
Hangovers and related ailments hit the workplace hard, with 72 percent of the economic expenses caused by loss in workplace productivity. Healthcare expenses due to problems induced by excessive drinking accounted for 11 percent of the total; criminal justice and law enforcement expenses accounted for 9 percent of the total; and the costs from motor vehicle accidents by drunk drivers accounted for 6 percent of the total costs.
Reducing the social costs of excessive alcohol abuse is a monumental task that should begin with individuals taking on personal responsibility for their behavior. But the CDC also suggests other ways to help reduce these costs to both family and friends and the economy of the United States.
The CDC suggests reducing both the days and hours of alcohol sales and its outlet density. It also suggests that alcohol excise taxes be increased and alcohol retail owners be held liable for injuries or damage done by their customers who were intoxicated or underage.
One in seven people in the United States reportedly engaged in binge drinking in 2006. The ill effects of excessive alcohol consumption have reached outside the family home and are now causing ill effects for the entire country. Hopefully, through better laws and better personal responsibility, these statistics will gradually diminish, and the economic impact of excessive alcohol intake will no longer add to the financial burdens of the United States.