The costs to society from excessive drinking add up to $2 per drink, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The costs include lost work productivity, medical expenses and property damage from car crashes.
The CDC conducted a study that calculated the excess costs of heavy drinking and binge drinking, USA Today reports. The researchers defined heavy drinking as having an average of more than one alcoholic drink per day for women, an average of more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men, and any drinking by pregnant women or underage youth. Binge drinking was defined as having four or five alcoholic drinks on one occasion.
They estimated excessive drinking cost society nearly $224 billion—or about $1.90 per drink—in 2006, most of it related to binge drinking. Losses in workplace productivity accounted for 72 percent of the total cost, while health care expenses accounted for 11 percent.
The study will appear in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
“This research captures the reality that binge drinking means binge spending and, left unchecked, the burdensome cost of excessive drinking will only go up,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “Unfortunately the hangover is being passed on to all of us in the workplace and the health and criminal justice systems. The cure is responsible individual behavior combined with the successful policies we used to decrease smoking in the United States.”