Binge Drinking is a Waste of U.S. Money

By Rebecca Jones

We’ve all woken up late on a Sunday morning and been shocked to see what Saturday night out on the town cost us. Between the drinks and the cab it adds up quickly but it doesn’t end there. According to a new study by the CDC binge drinking is costing the U.S. $224 billion annually.

In a study published in the Oct. 17th issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers from the CDC set out to calculate just what the societal cost of binge drinking amounted to. Besides what is being paid for the alcohol itself researchers looked at lost productivity, the cost of car accidents, health care costs for alcohol related illnesses and the time and money spent on the criminal justice system to pursue alcohol related crimes like drunk driving.

Excessive drinking cost America $224 billion in 2006 alone; that amounts to around $1.90 per drink. According to the study 80 cents is covered by local, state or federal governments while the other 80 cents gets picked up by drinkers, their families, health insurers and employers.

To put these numbers in perspective the societal cost of binge drinking puts it at the top of the list for most expensive habit; smoking comes in second at $193 billion annually and a sedentary lifestyle comes in third at $150 billion annually.

Excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S., resulting in around 79,000 fatalities each year. While many studies have been released espousing the health benefits of the occasional glass of wine, it is clear from this study that the cost of binge drinking is much higher than just last night’s bar tab.