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U.S.: Annual hangover cost is $224 billion

Oct. 18, 2011 at 1:31 AM
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ATLANTA, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The cost of excessive U.S. alcohol consumption -- mostly binge drinking -- in 2006 reached $223.5 billion, or $746 per citizen, officials calculated.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta defined excessive alcohol consumption -- heavy drinking -- as consuming an average of more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, and an average of more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men, and any drinking by pregnant women or underage youth.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found overall about $94.2 billion of the total economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption were borne by federal, state and local governments while $92.9 billion was borne by excessive drinkers and their family members.

Government agencies paid most of the healthcare expenses due to excessive alcohol use, while drinkers and their families bore most of the cost of lost productivity -- primarily in the form of lower household income.

"This research captures the reality that binge drinking means binge spending and, left unchecked, the burdensome cost of excessive drinking will only go up," Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a statement. "Unfortunately the hangover is being passed on to all of us in the workplace and the health and criminal justice systems. The cure is responsible individual behavior combined with the successful policies we used to decrease smoking in the United States."

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