Alcohol Awareness Month: How alcohol is a burden on American economy

“Love your enemies,” the Bible tells the believers, and America, it seems, strongly believes in this line, at least as far as it is alcohol – probably a human being’s biggest enemy. For, drinking is so deep-rooted in the American culture that people go to the extent of drowning themselves in alcohol.

Every year, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) observes April as the Alcohol Awareness Month to raise awareness and understanding of the damage associated with long-term or binge drinking, fighting the social stigma associated with drinking habits and inspire the local communities to put their focus on issues linked to alcohol abuse. The theme for this year – “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use” – is aimed at encouraging parents to educate their wards about the possible perils associated with early drinking.

Indelible effect of booze

The ineffaceable impact of booze on the American culture led to approximately 88,000 deaths annually during 2006-2010 period due to unrestrained and prolonged drinking habits, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014.

The harms caused by excessive alcohol consumption can be understood by the observations of a CDC study – 2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption – released in 2015. It said that incessant alcohol use by Americans has led to a gaping hole in the country’s economy with an estimated $249 billion lost in 2010 alone due to decreased workplace productivity, rising crime rates, along with the amount spent on getting people treated for their health problems arising due to drinking problems. The study observed that binge drinking was responsible for nearly 77 percent of the cost.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in October 2015, said drinking culture cost the U.S. economy $2.05 per drink in 2010, compared to $1.90 spent per drink or a total of $223.5 billion in 2006. The government had paid two out of every five dollars spent, amounting to nearly $100 billion.

Stressing on how uncurbed alcohol use continues to drain the American economy, Dr. Robert Brewer, co-author of the study and head of the CDC’s Alcohol Program, said, “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. Effective prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in states and communities, but they are under used.”

Costs incurred by states

The CDC study said that immoderate alcohol flow cost states in America and the District of Columbia a median of $3.5 billion in 2010. While Washington D.C. had seemingly the highest cost per person ($1,526 when contrasted with the national average of $807), New Mexico witnessed the highest cost being paid per drink ($2.77, compared to the $2.05 national average).

The CDC figures are only an estimate of what the costs might have been based on the changes in the number of problems attributed to imprudent consumption of alcohol and the price paid for them since 2006. According to experts, most cases of alcohol either go unreported or are unavailable because the costs calculated remain underestimated. The limitations of the study lie in the fact that the authors failed to take cognizance of other associated costs, including pain and suffering due to physical injuries caused due to alcohol abuse.

Road to recovery

Addiction to alcohol takes place over a period of time. To avoid the dependency on alcohol, it is necessary to control drinking habits or the urge to consume alcohol over any minor issue. Complete sobriety requires a great deal of time, patience, family support, along with necessary therapeutic interventions by certified medical practitioners to overcome the withdrawal symptoms.

If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction and is looking for necessary help, you may get in touch with the Alcohol Addiction Helpline for information regarding the right choice of treatment facilities in accordance with your needs. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 866-281-3014 or chat online with one of our representatives for further details.