Do you binge drink from time to time? Or more often? Or do you have friends or loved ones who drink more than is good for them?

If any of those things are true, what do you think the cost of that excessive drinking is? Here’s a hint: It’s much more than the cost of the drinks themselves.

Let’s look at the costs of some typical drinks. For a mass market beer, this might range from $3 to more than $5. Mixed drinks like a martini, margarita or cosmopolitan can run from $10 to more than $20 in upscale bars. So depending on what you drink and how much and where you drink it, the night might cost $40 to $100 or more, just in drinks.

A new study shows that the cost to the American economy is significant enough to put a dent in the viability of American companies. The total estimated ticket is $249 billion. (And that’s just drinking – of course, if you included drugs, the cost would be much higher.)

Where Do These Costs Come From?

Primarily from these three categories:

  • Productivity losses from missed days, working hungover or simply being unable to concentrate
  • Crime including thefts of money or property, assaults, driving company vehicles while impaired
  • Medical costs of treating people with health problems associated with their heavy drinking.

Binge drinking is the biggest contributor to these costs. This study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes 77% of the costs to the fallout from binge drinking.

It’s estimated that $100 billion of the costs are paid by the government – which, of course, comes out of taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

What Kind of Medical Costs Result from Drinking?

You may have seen this list elsewhere but it’s worth including it here. Common sources of alcohol-related medical costs:

  • Traffic accidents
  • Non-traffic mishaps like falling off a balcony or into a river or lake
  • Assaults
  • Liver disease or failure
  • Alcohol overdoses
  • Cardiovascular disease

There are several kinds of cancer linked to excessive alcohol consumption. According to the National Cancer Institute, these include cancers of head, neck, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum.

Running the Totals

When you add up all the costs and compare it to the total number of drinks sold in the country, it turns out that workplace costs come to $2.05 for every drink sold.

Of course, the social costs related to drinking are far higher and would include all the law enforcement, public safety, healthcare and child welfare costs outside the workplace, taking the true cost much higher.

Would this report be enough to make a person stop drinking? Probably not. It usually takes seeing the destructive impact in one’s own life to make that change. But it might be enough to inspire some large employers to initiate programs to help employees who might be struggling with a habit of drinking too much. And that could give struggling employees just the boost they need to start living healthier.

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