The Centers for Disease Control has been busy adding up the total cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States and has found it comes to $223.5 billion per year, or $1.90 per drink. In a report on its site, the CDC says that if we as a society would implement community based prevention strategies, we could reduce this number dramatically. And of course, that would the incalculable number of lives lost or destroyed each year due to people over consuming alcohol.
To arrive at these numbers, the CDC looked at property damage nationwide, lost work, health care for such things as cirrhosis of the liver and outlays communities must pay to incarcerate people that commit crimes under the influence. Adding all these things up at the federal, state and local levels grows to a really big number awfully fast, and that’s the point the CDC is trying to make in posting its report. To put it another way, the bill comes to $746 for every man, woman and child in the United States.
The CDC noted that a lot of the costs associated with drinking are due to binge drinking, primarily among the young, and it’s such binge drinking that so often leads to tragedy. In their report they say that up to 15% of adults engage in binge drinking and that it’s most common in men aged 18 to 34. They also note that binge drinking is very seldom associated with those that suffer from alcoholism and is instead more often associated with the occasional drinker out to have a “good time.”
As part of its report, the CDC also says that it believes it’s done a good a job at finding the numbers and adding them as it likely possible given current record keeping and other constraints, but believes the number is likely higher, as there are many costs associated with alcohol abuse that are never recorded.
The CDC would like to see government take a more active role in bringing down the money spent on excessive drinking and suggests an excise tax be added to such beverages in the amount that it is costing society, i.e. $2 per drink. They also suggest that the number of outlets be limited by reducing the number of liquor licenses dispensed by states and that hours of such establishments be cut back. And finally, they suggest that outlets that sell alcohol be held responsible for damages that result from their actions.