While trends show that the number of problem drinkers continues to remain relatively unchanged year over year dating back to 1992, the impact of these individuals is felt both in terms of dollars spent (healthcare, social services, legal services, etc.) and overall health and life expectancy.
For our purposes here, it’s probably best to start with some general definitions so that we can better understand what constitutes a “problem drinker” as well as a “binge drinker.” In alcoholism studies worldwide, “problem drinking,” is defined as drinking 15 or more drinks per week (for men) or 8 or more drinks per week (for women). “Binge drinking,” is defined as drinking 5 or more drinks on any given occasion (men) or 4 or more drinks on any given occasion (for women).
Alcohol is the most widely used substance in the world and according to the World Health Organization, alcohol use is responsible for 5.1-percent of “the global burden of disease and injury.” In layman’s terms, 5.1-percent of all disease or injury can be traced back to one substance, alcohol.
The effects on overall health of problem drinkers are both numerous and widespread. Typical health issues common in problem drinkers are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Depression and heightened anxiety (often when sober)
- High blood pressure
Due to the chronic and degenerative effects that alcohol has on the body, it’s not uncommon for problem drinkers to experience two or more of these health problems within their lifetime that can be traced back to alcohol abuse.
According to the CDC, in the United States alone, excessive alcohol consumption cost the government 223.5-billion dollars per year. That’s about $1.90 for every drink served, or $746 per person, per year, even if you’re a non-drinker. If you want to go even further down the rabbit hole, binge drinking (4 or more drinks for women – 5 or more drinks per men – in one day) is responsible for 70 percent of this cost.
To put this into perspective, alcohol costs the United States government more each year than smoking, or Medicaid. If you’re wondering where these monetary losses come from, nearly 72 percent of the total is categorized as “health care” expenses while 11 percent is a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage. The small amount remaining is tied into government rehabilitation programs, social and familial services, and other alcohol-related costs.
While the cost of drinking is often high, when you factor in the costs of additional factors related to drinking (as opposed to the alcohol itself), you begin to paint a picture of just how costly and damaging heavy drinking can be to the individual and to society as a whole.
At Prescott House, many men find their way to our facility after feeling the impact of health, criminal, family, or career-altering consequences due to alcohol abuse. No matter how they get here, our goal is the same, and that’s to treat each individual that walks through our doors so that they gain the knowledge, support and confidence that they need to understand that they can change this behavior.
If you or a loved one are experiencing problems with addiction, please contact Prescott House today to find out how we can help.