CDC: Binge drinking leads to serious, expensive consequences

There's No Substitute for Experience

While there is nothing wrong in enjoying a few alcoholic beverages, when responsible drinking crosses over into excessive drinking, the results can be devastating.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report finding heavy drinking costs the U.S. $223.5 billion a year. This is due to not only long-term health issues, such as liver disease and heart problems, but also shorter term issues, like motor vehicle accidents and engaging in risky behaviors.

In looking at the total cost to the U.S., 70 percent of this $223.5 billion stemmed from binge drinking. For men, binge drinking is considered more than five drinks in two hours. For women, binge drinking is more than four drinks in two hours.

When putting this information together -- what binge drinking is and how much it costs the U.S. -- it can be rather alarming to learn that a 2012 CDC study found one in six people in the U.S. are binge drinkers. Of those who reported this level of excessive drinking, the average was four binge drinking episodes per month.

In order to combat these high costs, which include everything from health care costs to decreased productivity to fatal car accidents, the CDC offers many tips, including holding establishments responsible for serving minors and those who are already intoxicated and go on to cause accidents that hurt or kill others.

In addition to liability, other evidence-based suggestions from the CDC include not having such a large concentration of places to buy alcohol in the same area.

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