The Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Use

    27 August, 2013


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

    A new study has found that excessive alcohol drinking costs Americans more than $220 billion a year, that amount is equal to almost $2 a drink. But study organizers believe the biggest costs come from a loss of worker productivity.

    Robert Brewer works for America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a public health agency. He helped to produce a report on the study.

    The researchers used findings from 2006 to examine different costs linked to heavy drinking. They looked at results from around the United States and found a lot of variation in different parts of the country.

    Alcohol-related costs include health care, the cost of trying cases for drinking-related crimes, and property damage from road accidents.

    Robert Brewer says the biggest cost is lost productivity. Many people with a drinking problem have lower-paying jobs. He says they may also be less productive when they are at work.

    "In addition to that, a number of people die of alcohol-attributable conditions. And many of those folks die in the prime of their life. So there's the personal tragedy there. But there's also a huge economic cost to somebody dying, for example, in an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash at age 35."

    The researchers were mainly concerned about the cost of heavy alcohol use. The study didn't look at the effect on individuals who drink a glass of beer or wine with dinner. Mr Brewer says the largest costs come from binge drinking when people drink a lot of alcohol in a short period of time.

    The study was based on the economic costs of heavy drinking in the United States, but Mr Brewer says many nations have problems with what the World Health Organization calls "harmful use of alcohol."

    "But I think that it is very reasonable to assume that harmful alcohol use is going to result in some of the same consequences in other countries, even if the costs associated with those consequences are different."

    The study on the economic costs of excessive alcohol use was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

    Two years ago, a British medical examiner ruled that singer Amy Winehouse died as a result of drinking too much alcohol. Winehouse was only 27 years old. Tests show that she died after drinking enough alcohol to put her blood alcohol level at more than five times the legal drink-drive limit. The award winning singer had a well documented battle with drinks and alcohol.

    And that's the Health Report from VOA Learning English. Go to our website to leave comments on our reports and to find more stories for people learning American English. I'm Christopher Cruise.