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Addiction – Alcohol: What’s the “Real Cost”?

Costs 100’s of billions annually; men’s health issues; woman’s health issues; alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth; alcohol-impaired driver; millions of deaths annually

Addictions destroy budgets and oh so much more. There are a lot of things in this world that can get you addicted. Could you stop if you wanted to? So, you can’t stop? Tunabudget believes there are solutions. Maybe the first step, if there is an addiction, would be an acknowledgment that there is an addiction problem. As most people will admit, unresolved addictions may not only destroy your life, they may destroy the family unit too – as it often does. You likely already know this. Regardless, seriously consider the following facts from 2016 to 2018:

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); World Health Organization (WHO)


Binge Drinking

Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 a drink; these costs resulted from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses; binge drinking was responsible for 77% of these costs, or $191 billion

Binge drinking is associated with many health problems:

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning

  • Violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Unintended pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and stillbirth

  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

  • Sudden infant death syndrome

  • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease

  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon

  • Memory and learning problems

  • Alcohol dependence

One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge; this results in 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults annually, or 467 binge drinks per binge drinker

Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years, but more than half of the total binge drinks are consumed by those aged 35 and older

Excessive alcohol use and risks to men’s health include:

  • Binge drinking is twice as common among men than among women; four in five total binge drinks are consumed by men

  • Binge drinking is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more and higher educational levels; binge drinkers with lower incomes and educational levels, however, consume more binge drinks per year

  • Over 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days

  • Most people younger than age 21 who drink alcohol report binge drinking, often consuming large amounts

  • Approximately 58% of adult men report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days

  • Approximately 23% of adult men report binge drinking 5 times a month, averaging 8 drinks per binge

  • Men are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women

Excessive alcohol use and risks to women’s health include:

  • Approximately 46% of adult women report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days

  • Approximately 12% of adult women report binge drinking 3 times a month, averaging 5 drinks per binge

  • National surveys show that about 1 in 2 women of child-bearing age (i.e., aged 18–44 years) drink alcohol, and 18% of women who drink alcohol in this age group binge drink

  • Excessive drinking may disrupt the menstrual cycle and increase the risk of infertility

  • Women who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex and multiple sex partners; these activities increase the risks of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases

  • About 10% of pregnant women drink alcohol

  • Women who drink alcohol while pregnant increase their risk of having a baby with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD); the most severe form is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which causes mental retardation and birth defects

  • FASD are completely preventable if a woman does not drink while pregnant or while she may become pregnant; it is not safe to drink at any time during pregnancy

  • Excessive drinking increases a woman’s risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery

  • Women who drink alcohol while pregnant are also more likely to have a baby die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); this risk substantially increases if a woman binge drinks during her first trimester of pregnancy

Underage Drinking of alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth, including:

  • Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and cost the U.S. $24 billion in economic costs in 2010

  • Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States; more than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks

  • On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers

  • In 2013, there were approximately 119,000 emergency rooms visits by persons aged 12 to 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol

  • The 2017, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days; 30% drank some amount of alcohol; 14% binge drank; 6% drove after drinking alcohol; 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol

  • In 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 19% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 12% reported binge drinking in the past 30 day

  • In 2017, the Monitoring the Future Survey reported that 8% of 8th graders and 33% of 12th graders drank during the past 30 days, and 2% of 8th graders and 19% of 12th graders binge drank during the past 30 days

Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades

  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities

  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk

  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses

  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity

  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development

  • Physical and sexual assault

  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide

  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning

  • Memory problems

  • Abuse of other drugs

  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects

  • Death from alcohol poisoning

Drinking and Driving

  • Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver; this is one death every 50 minutes; the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion

  • In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States

  • Of the 1,233 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2016, 214 (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver

  • In 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics; that’s one percent of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year

  • Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes

  • Marijuana use is increasing and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system

Worldwide facts:

  • 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.3% of all deaths

  • The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions

  • Overall, 5.1 % of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)

  • Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In the age group 20–39 years approximately 13.5 % of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable

  • There is a causal relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental and behavioral disorders, other noncommunicable conditions as well as injuries

  • The latest causal relationships have been established between harmful drinking and incidence of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as the course of HIV/AIDS

  • Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large


  • Is there anyone in your life that you could possibly reach out to, and humbly approach for guidance, love, and hope?

  • Is there an organization that offers assistance at a cost that you can afford in order to get help?

  • How far and at what cost have your addictions taken you?

  • What have you already lost, and what do you stand to lose?

  • Are you earnestly seeking and desiring to get your addictions behind you once and for all?

  • What are you willing to give to sacrifice to change, and how best should that change take place?

  • Do you really know what you need to do, but are just too chained to the addiction?

  • Are you addicted?

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