Heavy drinking carries major health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
including elevated odds of long-term ailments like liver disease, heart
problems, fertility issues, some cancers and neurological issues like
stroke or dementia.
Shorter term, alcohol poisoning, traffic
accidents, falls, violence and risky sexual behaviors are risks also
associated with large amounts alcohol consumption.
A new CDC
report shows these alcohol-related health woes take a heavy financial
toll on the U.S., to the tune of $223.5 billion a year -- and some
states' wallets fared worse than others.
Binge drinking -- defined as when men drink more than
five drinks and women drink more than four drinks in two hours -- was
responsible for more than 70 percent of the excessive alcohol costs., a
total of $171 billion annually.
"It is striking to see most of
the costs of excessive drinking in states and D.C. are due to binge
drinking, which is reported by about 18 percent of U.S. adults," report
author Dr. Robert Brewer, alcohol program lead at CDC, said in a statement.
A 2012 CDC study estimated about 38 million U.S. adults, or about one in six people, are binge drinkers, with a reported average of four episodes per month.
A study by the agency one year later revealed almost 14 million women binge drink about three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks per binge.
The latest report, published Aug. 13 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, estimated state-by-state economic costs of drinking including those from binge drinking and underage drinking.
median state cost associated with excessive drinking was $2.9 billion,
with about $2 out of every $5 of these costs being paid for by the
government. The state that absorbed the least alcohol costs was North
Dakota, coming in at $420 million. The most costs were found in
California, totaling nearly $32 billion.
The researchers broke
down the numbers even further and found based on population, the
District of Columbia has the highest per-person cost associated with
excessive drinking ($1,662 per person) while Iowa had the lowest ($622).
"The state estimates calculated here are most likely substantial underestimates," wrote Brewer and the researchers.
all states, excessive drinking costs due to productivity losses (such
as missed work) ranged from 61 percent in Wyoming to 82 percent in the
District of Columbia. The share of costs due to added health care
expenses ranged from 8 percent in Texas to 16 percent in Vermont.
Underage drinking alone was responsible for $24.6 billion, or 11 percent, of the total excessive drinking costs.
What can states do to lower the tab?
The CDC recommends states turn to its Community Guide,
which outlines evidence-based methods to curb alcohol-related costs,
including raising alcohol taxes, limiting the number of alcohol shops in
certain areas, and holding retailers liable for selling alcohol to
obviously drunk people or minors who cause death or injury to others.
Yale University researchers reported this week that cigarette taxes may indirectly curb heavy drinking rates.
The CDC has more information health risks for men and women due to excessive drinking.
distilled spirits industry is totally opposed to binge drinking but the
CDC's simplistic solutions including raising taxes will not solve the
problem,"Lisa Hawkins, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council,
an industry group, said in an emailed statement. "Studies utilized by
CDC's Community Task Force to make these recommendations are both
outdated and inaccurate."