Excessive Drinking Costs US $224 Billion a Year

drinking teenagers

Excessive alcohol consumption costs taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars a year, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2006, binge drinking, underage drinking and drinking by pregnant women cost U.S. taxpayers $223.5 billion, the CDC study showed. That breaks down to $746 per taxpayer, the researchers said, or about $1.90 for each alcoholic drink consumed that year.

Losses in workplace productivity accounted for 72 percent of the total cost. Health care expenses came in a distant second, making up 11 percent of the cost.

Money needed for law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive drinking made up 9 percent of the total cost, while 6 percent came from motor vehicle accidents caused by alcohol-impaired driving.

Excessive alcohol consumption, as defined by the CDC, includes binge drinking, or when a woman has four or more drinks in about two hours, or a man has five or more drinks within that time.

Heavy drinking is also included — that means having more than one drink a day on average, for women, or more than two drinks a day on average for men.

The researchers noted that the price tag of excessive alcohol consumption may be  underestimated. That's because the study did not include a number of other expenses related to excessive drinking, such as medical costs for the pain and suffering experienced by excessive drinkers, or by others who were affected by drinking.

Pass it on: Excessive drinking costs the average taxpayer $746 a year.

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Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.