Excessive Drinking Costs Governments Tens Of Billions

Federal, state and local governments shouldered about $94.2 billion in 2006 alone, a new study shows.

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Excessive drinking cost U.S. society more than $220 billion in 2006, a study released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

According to the CDC, federal, state and local governments shouldered about $94.2 billion of that total. Governments are often forced to pay health care costs associated with excessive drinking. Costs related to law enforcement and the justice system, typically relegated to state and local entities, add up to more than $20 billion.

Excessive drinkers and their families felt about $93 billion in costs related to alcohol consumption, more than half of which was lost productivity in the work place. The study estimated excessive drinking cost $746 per person in 2006.

About 75 percent of those costs were linked to binge drinking, defined as four or more alcoholic beverages in a day for a woman and five for a man. Excessive consumption is characterized as more than one drink a day for a woman and more than two for a man. About 15 percent of adults have participated in binge drinking, Robert Brewer, Alcohol Program Leader at the CDC, said in a statement.

"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 Frieden said in a statement. "Unfortunately the hangover is being passed on to all of us in the workplace and the health and criminal justice systems.

Dylan Scott is a GOVERNING staff writer.
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