Excessive alcohol use draining US economy: Study

New York, Oct 17 (IANS) Excessive drinking cost the US $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, a significant increase from $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006, says a new study.

Most of these costs were due to reduced workplace productivity, crime and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking.

The findings of the study by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that excessive alcohol use continues to drain the US economy.

“The increase in the costs of excessive drinking from 2006 to 2010 is concerning, particularly given the severe economic recession that occurred during these years,” said one of the study’s authors Robert Brewer, head of CDC’s Alcohol Programme.

“Effective prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in states and communities, but they are under used,” Brewer said.

Binge drinking, defined as drinking five or more drinks on one occasion for men or four or more drinks on one occasion for women, was responsible for most of these costs (77 percent).

Two of every five dollars of costs — over $100 billion — were paid by governments, the study found.

An average of 88,000 deaths each year, including one in 10 deaths among working-age Americans ages 20-64, can be attributed to excessive alcohol consumption, according to the study.

The 2010 cost estimates were based on changes in the occurrence of alcohol-related problems and the cost of paying for them since 2006.

The researchers believe that the study underestimates the cost of excessive drinking because information on alcohol is often underreported or unavailable, and the study did not include other costs, such as pain and suffering due to alcohol-attributable harms.

The study appeared in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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