America’s Drinking Is Costing the Economy a Fortune

By Mike Pomranz |
SECRET TO DRINKING WITHOUT GETTING DRUNK_1

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Talk about a buzzkill. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a press release entitled “Excessive alcohol use continues to be a drain on the American economy,” and, unsurprisingly, the information contained inside it was not intended to put anyone in a party mood.

According to their research, excessive drinking cost the United States $249 billion in 2010—which they said calculated out to a whopping $2.05 per drink. Just what the heck makes getting tipsy so expensive? The release states, “Most of these costs were due to reduced workplace productivity, crime, and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking.”

To make matters worse, the CDC says the 2010 numbers represent a significant uptick in costs from 2006, when drinking cost the economy a mere $223.5 billion, or about $1.90 per drink. Though couldn’t that increase be caused by inflation? Maybe if I had done a little less drinking during my college years, I would know the answer.

“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 Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., head of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the study’s authors.

Of course, as complicated as the methodology to come up with these numbers is, the real world is still far more complicated. If it was so cut and dry that every drink cost the economy $2, we could just launch a government program that gives everyone two bucks for every drink they don’t drink—which actually sounds about as sensible as most other government programs.

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