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  Health Care Costs of Alcohol
Health care costs and alcohol
  • Twenty-five to forty percent of all patients in U.S. general hospital beds (not in maternity or intensive care) are being treated for complications of alcohol-related problems. 1
  • Annual health care expenditures for alcohol-related problems amount to $22.5 billion. The total cost of alcohol problems is $175.9 billion a year (compared to $114.2 billion for other drug problems and $137 billion for smoking).2
  • In comparison to moderate and non-drinkers, individuals with a history of heavy drinking have higher health care costs. 3
  • Untreated alcohol problems waste an estimated $184.6 billion dollars per year in health care, business and criminal justice costs, and cause more than 100,000 deaths. 4
  • Health care costs related to alcohol abuse are not limited to the user. Children of alcoholics who are admitted to the hospital average 62 percent more hospital days and 29 percent longer stays. 5
  • Alcohol use by underage drinkers results in $3.7 billion a year in medical care costs due to traffic crashes, violent crime, suicide attempts and other related consequences. The total annual cost of alcohol use by underage youth is $52.8 billion. 6
  • Alcohol-related car crashes are the number one killer of teens. Alcohol use is also associated with homicides, suicides, and drownings-the next three leading causes of death among youth. 7
  • Alcohol is the drug most frequently used by 12 to 17 year-olds-and the one that causes the most negative health consequences. More than 4 million adolescents under the legal drinking age consume alcohol in any given month. 8
  • For an estimate of the costs that alcohol problems may be causing your workplace, and suggestions on what a company can do to identify and treat costly alcohol problems, go to the Alcohol Cost Calculator: http://www.alcoholcostcalculator.org. 9

1 Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University, The Cost of Substance Abuse to America's Health Care System, Report 1: Medicaid Hospital Costs, 1994.

2 Economic costs of substance abuse, 1995. Dorothy P. Rice. Proceedings of the Association of American Physicians 111(2): 119-125. 1999.

3 Hunkeler EM, Hung, Yun-Yi, Rice DP, Weiser C and Hu, Teh-wei. Alcohol consumption patterns and health care costs in an HMO. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Vol 64, Issue 2, pp 181-190, October 2001.

4 Harwood, H. Updating Estimates of the Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse in the United States: Estimates, Update Methods, and Data. Report prepared by The Lewin Group for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2000.

McGinnis, J.M. & Foege, W.H., 1993. Actual causes of death in the United States. The Journal of American Medical Association. 270(18):2207-2212.

5 Children of Alcoholics Foundation, Children of Alcoholics in the Medicaid System: Hidden Problems, Hidden Costs, 1990

6 Costs of underage drinking. David T. Levy, Ted R. Miller, and Kenya C. Cox. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Rockville MD. October 1999.

7 Center for Substance Abuse Prevention's Discussion Paper on Preventing Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Problems, 1993.

8 See 2

9 http://ensuringsolutions.org/