Binge drinking in the United States results in 79,000 deaths per year and costs $745 per person, or nearly $2 per drink, according to a government report out Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report uses data from 2006, the latest year for which information is available.
AdvertisementCosts related to excessive alcohol drinking reached $223.5 billion that year, according to the report.
The CDC defines binge drinking as four or more drinks per occasion for a woman, and five or more drinks per occasion for a man; heavy drinking as more than one drink per day on average for a woman, and twice that amount for a man; and any alcohol consumption by pregnant women or underage youth.
Researchers looked at cost related to losses in workplace productivity (72 percent of the total); related health care expenses (11 percent); law enforcement and criminal justice expenses (nine percent); and costs from drunken driving accidents (six percent).
"This research captures the reality that binge drinking means binge spending, not just for the person who drinks but for families, communities, and society," said CDC Director Thomas Frieden.
Responsible behavior combined with effective policies "can decrease unhealthy drinking, reduce health care and other costs, and increase productivity," Frieden said.
More than three-quarters of the cost of excessive alcohol consumption "is due to binge drinking, which is reported by about 15 percent of US adults," said Robert Brewer, alcohol program leader at CDC and one of the report authors.
The report is based on data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Application; the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol-Related Conditions; and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among others.
Brewer said that in order to reduce binge drinking and related damage, effective strategies for communities include "increasing the price of alcohol and reducing alcohol outlet density."
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