CDC: Washington, D.C., Leads Nation in Per Capita Cost of ‘Excessive Drinking’

By Sam Dorman | October 28, 2015 | 11:50am EDT
(AP photo)

( Washington, D.C. leads the nation with the highest per capita cost of excessive drinking, according to a new study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Researchers measured 26 cost components to estimate the total cost imposed by excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

They found that the total cost of of excessive drinking hit $1,526 per capita in D.C..--higher than any of the 50 states. The per capita cost to government of excessive drinking in Washington, D.C., was $619, or 87 cents for every drink poured in the nation’s capital.

After the District of Columbia, Alaska ($1,165), Colorado ($1,005), New Mexico ($1,084), and Wyoming ($1,052) had the highest per capita total costs for excessive drinking.

The lowest per capita costs for excessive alcohol consumption were in Utah ($592), followed by Iowa ($635), Nebraska ($639), Hawaii ($689), and Indiana ($689).

The calculated costs of excessive drinking includes health care, lost productivity, and other expenses relating to criminal justice, motor vehicle crashes, fire losses, and special education associated with fetal alcohol syndrome.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, defined excessive drinking as "binge drinking," "heavy drinking," and alcohol consumption by both underage youth and pregnant mothers.

Binge drinking, which accounted for 76.7 percent of the total cost of excessive drinking, is defined as having four or more drinks per occasion for women and five or more drinks per occasion for men.

"Heavy drinking" consists of more than eight drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men.

Total costs incurred from excessive drinking nationwide in 2010 reached $249 billion, according to the study.

Of that amount, $191.1 billion was attributed to binge drinking. $100.7 billion (40.4 percent) was incurred by government, averaging out to 83 cents per drink, the study reported.

Nearly three quarters (71.9 percent) of the total cost, or $179 billion, was due to"lost productivity." Alcohol-related health care accounted for another $28.3 billion.

“Despite the severe economic recession in the U.S. from late 2007 to mid-2009, the cost of excessive drinking increased about 2.7% annually…significantly outpacing the 1.9% annual inflation rate,” researchers noted.

“It is clear that excessive alcohol consumption is very expensive, that these costs are largely due to binge drinking, and that a substantial proportion of these costs are borne by taxpayers, including non-drinkers."

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