Binge Drinking Costs State Billions

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EUGENE, Ore. — According to a recently released report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink. That’s about one in every six people. That same report also says all this activity is impacting more than just your health. Your wallet is likely also taking a hit.

Emergence is an organization that offers recovery counseling and education services for a number of things including alcohol addiction. So staff there see firsthand the effects of alcohol abuse, including the financial impact.

Clinical Director Maureen Jenne said, “We certainly see people struggle to pay for treatment and we see them struggle to pay for other bills too when they are spending a lot on drinking.”

The CDC says alcohol abuse, including binge drinking, is a huge burden on the U.S. Government, costing more than $223 billion a year, equating to $746 per person or $1.90 a drink. Federal and state alcohol taxes only amount to about 12 cents a drink.

“Wow, that’s a lot of money. On one hand, I’m not surprised, because I know there are a lot of issues related to drinking, particularly binge drinking. But on the other hand, I think that’s a lot of money that could be redirected to other purposes,” said Jenne.

In Oregon, binge drinking costs $2.8 billion a year or about $1.75 per drink. Lane County Public Health officials said they’re trying to change the misconceptions around binge drinking. For instance, they said it’s likely people don’t even realize they’re doing it.

Prevention Specialist Lindsay Adkisson said, “We say a standard drink size is 12 oz. of regular beer. So you go to a bar or a brewery and get a pint, that’s 16 oz. and that’s actually more than a standard drink and the alcohol content is higher.”

Binge drinking may seem like typical college town behavior, but health officials said it’s something everyone should think twice about.

“Binge drinking six times a month over four years has the same impact on your heart as drinking more than six drinks everyday for a lifetime,” said Adkisson.

Lane County Public Health officials said they’re not trying to tell people not to drink, rather just do so responsibly.

More taxation was mentioned as one way this issue could be helped, but many also felt education and prevention is the key to cutting costs.

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