Steven Ross Johnson with ModernHealthcare.com reports that a recent CDC
study shows binge drinking, which is defined as 5 or more drinks in one
sitting (for men) and 4 or more drinks in one sitting (for women) collectively
cost us in 2006 more than $220 billion, or a full 70% of all costs related
to drinking to excess.
It’s probably safe to assume that the cost we incur every year is
in the billions, and that the cost in 2006 wasn’t an anomaly.
A lot of that cost is associated with the criminal justice side of drinking, i.e.
drinking and driving – think alcohol-related accidents that cause injury or death. Think
simply getting pulled over, arrested, and charged with DUI.
But the greatest cost, at least in terms of dollar figures, according to
Johnson’s report, was in “workplace productivity.” So,
in other words, blame the hangover. To us, the greatest cost is in its
toll on human lives. This goes beyond the alcohol-related crash, crossing
the line into health problems related to drinking alcohol. The CDC says
that drinking alcohol to excess causes roughly 80,000 deaths every year.