Excessive Drinking Gives Economy a $249 Billion Headache, CDC Says

Drinking to excess doesn’t just make you feel horrible, it leaves the U.S. economy hungover and less productive, according to new research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC reported Thursday that excessive drinking cost the U.S. economy $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink. It said that was up significantly from the $223.5 billion cost it calculated for 2006.

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Most of these costs were attributable to reduced workplace productivity, crime and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking, the CDC said.

Binge drinking -- defined as consuming five or more drinks at a time for men or four or more drinks on one occasion for women -– was responsible for 77 percent of the overall economic costs, the CDC said.

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“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 Dr. Robert Brewer, head of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the study’s authors. “Effective prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in states and communities, but they are under used.”

The CDC says excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 88,000 deaths each year, including one in 10 deaths among Americans between the ages of 20 and 64.