All Delaware Cities

Report Shows Extra Cost of Alcohol Consumption in DE

That bottle of beer or cocktail costs more than you think. According to a report coming out in the October issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and cost $223.5 billion ($1.90/drink) in 2006. For Delaware the costs were about $687 million.

These costs break down (on a national average basis) of about $1.90 per drink consumed. They were totaled from estimates that included things like loss of productivity at work, increased healthcare costs, motor vehicle crashes and increased insurance rates. Of these costs, 43.5% were paid by Delaware taxpayers.

The social costs were not measured, but these are arguably the greatest. What price can we put on a father who gets drunk and beats his wife, or a mother who relies on her children to manage the household? What’s the cost in a failed life when a drinking young person flunks out of college?

From a pragmatic, financial point of view, we are all paying the price for our fellows who drink too much. And those share the most blame – those who do not “drink responsibly.” The study pointed out that binge drinking (which led to the most accidents and adverse outcomes) was the most expensive, and eliminating that style of drinking would do the most to combat costs.

One remedy for this unnecessary burden is to increase the taxes on alcohol sales of all types. Unfortunately, increasing taxes is an unpopular idea, and there’s no way to guarantee that the funds generated would go toward the problem. We seem to be much better at identifying the problem than solving it. What could be done, however, is to direct more funds into treatment and prevention.


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