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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
November 24, 2015

The High Price of Problem Drinking

JAMA. 2015;314(20):2123. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.15600

Taxpayers shouldered billions of dollars in costs related to increases in excessive drinking as the US economy collapsed in the late 2000s, according to a recent CDC study.

The study projected the cost of excessive drinking in 2010 based on changes in 26 factors, including inflation in the cost of medical care, that the investigators had used to estimate the 2006 economic toll of drinking too much. They found that problem drinking cost the United States $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, a substantial increase from $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006. Binge drinking was responsible for 77% of the costs, followed by underage drinking (10%) and drinking among pregnant women (2%). Most of the costs were due to reduced productivity (72%) and treating health-related problems (11%). Taxpayers paid 40% of the bill (Sacks JJ et al. Am J Prev Med. 2015;49[5]:e73-e79).