Hangovers Cost the Economy $224 Billion Says CDC

martinisCredit: Dreamstime/QuaysideShould have gotten to this before the Fourth of July bingeing began. In any case, the folks over at The Atlantic are reporting a 2011 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which found that the day after "excessive" alcohol consumption worker productivity is, well, impaired. Who knew? By the way, the CDC defines excessive alcohol consumption...

...as consuming an average of more than one  alcoholic beverage per day for women, and an average of more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men, and any drinking by pregnant women or underage youth.

Two drinks? They've got to be kidding. Well, what did the researchers find anyway? From the press release:

The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States in 2006 reached $223.5 billion or about $1.90 per drink, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost three–quarters of these costs were due to binge drinking, consuming four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women or five or more drinks per occasion for men, the report said...

Researchers found the costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 percent of the total cost), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11 percent of the total cost), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 percent of the total cost), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 percent of the total cost).  The study did not consider a number of other costs such as those due to pain and suffering by the excessive drinker or others who were affected by the drinking, and thus may be an underestimate. Researchers estimated that excessive drinking cost $746 per person in the United States in 2006.

Of course, the researchers don't just report the bad news; they also offer solutions to the problem:

“It is striking that over three–quarters of the cost of excessive alcohol consumption is due to binge drinking, which is reported by about 15 percent of U.S. adults,” said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.P.H., Alcohol Program Leader at CDC and one of the authors of the report. “Fortunately, there are a number of effective public health strategies that communities can use to reduce binge drinking and related harms, such as increasing the price of alcohol and reducing the number of places that sell and serve it.”

Let us all hope that Mayor Bloomberg does not ever read this study. Enjoy your weekend.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Warrren||

    But all that spending on alcohol...stimulus!

  • A Serious Man||

    The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States in 2006 reached $223.5 billion or about $1.90 per drink, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost three–quarters of these costs were due to binge drinking, consuming four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women or five or more drinks per occasion for men, the report said...

    That's money the government could have taxed and used to fund society. We should limit or outright ban alcohol consumption for the public good.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, because the weak economy is our fault, not the government's.

  • ||

    It really is. If the ungrateful people would just spend more, max out their credit and take out second mortgages, then all that spending would compel employers to add more jobs for the new demand!

    Krugnuts told me so.

  • Pro Libertate||

    We should ban saving.

  • Warrren||

    Maybe we the only time we should save is during the day.

  • pan fried wylie||

    There goes any hope of abandoning daylight savings....oh wait, i.c.what....

  • goneGalt||

    I thought we already had banned it.
    ZIRP, Fed Printing, etc.

  • Rasilio||

    given that after tax interest rates have been negative for quite some time they effectively have

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, I mean any kind of personal savings or investment in nontaxable investments.

  • Agammamon||

    No need to ban it, the fed will just inflate it away.

  • ||

    You obviously cant think like a lefty. All right thinking people would simply add a $1.90 tax onto each serving of alcohol.

    That way the lost productivity would magically reappear in the economy. It increases the value of goods we have in the country (each serving of alcohol would be more valuable) and bring in more tax revenue.

    Just ask Chapman, increasing taxes increases the amount of wealth we have.

    (Fuck! I got dizzy just from typing that )

  • JackColton||

    I'm hoping you're kidding (if you are, good job), otherwise I'd need to point out that 1) alcohol is already heavily taxed (here in Vegas, often well over $2 a drink) 2) that the alcohol industry as a whole contributes over $400 Billion to the U.S. Economy 3) employs nearly 4 million people directly / indirectly and 4) pretty sure prohibition of alcohol failed pretty miserably the first time around.

  • sarcasmic||

    ...as consuming an average of more than one alcoholic beverage per day for women, and an average of more than two alcoholic beverages per day for men

    Enjoyment is a sin. Puritans are alive and well.

  • Tman||

    “Fortunately, there are a number of effective public health strategies that communities can use to reduce binge drinking and related harms, such as increasing the price of alcohol and reducing the number of places that sell and serve it.”

    Because clearly it's not your fault that you drink too much. You NEED help. It's a disease. It's not because you are completely lacking in any sense of responsibility or self control, it's because advertisers and liquor promotion is an unstoppable force that requires you to serve at its altar.

    Also, I see you're eating another donut. You know how much fat that has in it, right? It's not your fault. You NEED help. It's a disease.

  • ||

    Now that your choices about your health are everyone's business, I expect this sort of BS to be turned up to 11. Obamacare has opened a world of opportunity for various nannies to lobby congress about restricting or subsidizing their pet peeves, for your own good, of course.

  • Warrren||

    It is mandatory that you maximize your economic output, citizen!

  • ||

    It says so right here in the Social Contract!

  • goneGalt||

    Would this be the right time to say, "No, fuck you, cut spending!"?

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's always the right time to say that.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    No, it isn't. How the fuck are you so wrong? You really need to just cut out this crusade against spending!

  • John||

    In this day and age of playing DNA roulette wheel waiting for the next swine flu virus to finally mutate enough to affect humans and be highly contagious, and of antibiotic resistant TB, and of bed bugs and rats running rampant in our cities, it is good to know the CDC is looking at the important issues.

    At some point in the future, we are going to have a real pandemic and a return of big time public health problems. And thanks to fascist progressives taking over the public health profession and perverting it into a political entity, we will have no idea how to do with it.

    I hope fucking SHreek and Tony are the first victims.

  • ||

    You know, strictly from a historical perspective, a lot of those major die-offs were followed by very short periods of economic dislocation, and then large, long-lasting booms. Might not be such a bad thing.

    Just sayin.

  • John||

    If you are one of the lucky ones who live, life isn't so bad, assuming you can get over the grief of losing so many of your friends and family. But I would prefer that not to happen.

  • Rasilio||

    Indeed, it is not hard at all to show that the aftermath of the black plague lead directly to the end of Feudalism and the growth if the middle class

  • John||

    Yes. The Black Plague in many ways gave us the modern world. But damn, it was a tough way to get here.

  • ||

    What kind of productivity for the collective did I lose by getting really, really stoned and drunk yesterday?

  • A Serious Man||

    You being incapacitated was a net benefit for the collective.

  • ||

    Well, then I guess I'll do it again today. For the collective!

  • Agammamon||

    Some people's work is counted in *negative* man-hours.

  • ||

    It's hard to calculate precisely. Nevertheless, the IRS will bill you as necessary.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Well, they'll have him write up the bill. Then if they decide (two or three years from now) it's not enough they'll just charge him retroactive interest on it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    [Points at Episiarch and screeches à la Donald Sutherland.]

    I figure we're costing the economy billions each minute we sleep. What's the minimum necessary to sustain life? Anything beyond that is a crime.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    You cost society $3.67 send your check to the US Treasury.

  • Warrren||

    Why couldn't Ayn written Atlas Slurred, a book about a bunch of reprobates going Galt in a dive bar?

  • ||

    Instead of Dagny Taggart, the protagonist would be named Candy. And she would only be managing that dive to pay her way through medical school.

  • datcv||

    I'd like to see Robert Reich dangle some fire fighter corpses in front of that premise!

  • Warrren||

    I would read that. Shit, I should write it. Too bad I am insufferably lazy.

  • goneGalt||

    a bunch of reprobates going Galt in a dive bar

    HEY! I resemble that!

  • Warrren||

    We can tell by the smell.

  • ||

    So, what I've learned from this is that the CDC is staffed by degenerate, quasi-prohibitionist fascists? Awesome.

    I think I'll go look up that clip of Noah Emmerich blowing up a CDC facility in The Walking Dead. I'll get a nice fuck-the-CDC kick out of it.

  • John||

    Since when is drinking too much and getting a hangover a "disease"?

    This kind of things shows how getting rid of religion doesn't help things. It used to be that people like this said not to drink because it was a sin. Well, they can't say that anymore since we no longer use religion as a justification for public policy. But getting rid of the religion didn't cause these kind of people to go away or give up. They just ass fucked science to come up with a new justification to control people's lives and keep them from doing things they don't like.

    I think we were better off with the religion. At least it kept these people's filthy paws off of science and public health.

  • ||

    I honestly can't imagine a future in which these authoritarian fuckheads won't be trying to impose prohibition on anything and everything, probably incrementally.

    On the other hand, John, you're totally wrong. What happens when a fungal infection hits us and turns most of the population into rage-driven flesh-eaters, thereby forcing us to live in military-controlled quarantine zones? You obviously haven't thought this through!1!11!!

    The CDC should ban plants. And vegetables. And trees. Trees are fucking killing machines.

  • A Serious Man||

    I think I'll go look up that clip of Noah Emmerich blowing up a CDC facility in The Walking Dead. I'll get a nice fuck-the-CDC kick out of it.

    Unfortunately he is only slightly better at catching Soviet spies than he is at curing zombie viruses.

  • ||

    Is The Americans good?

  • A Serious Man||

    I enjoyed it. The actors and characters are good and I guess there is plenty of early 80s nostalgia if you are old enough.

  • Jordan||

    Allow me to summarize this and almost every report by the CDC: "Public health parasites try to justify their paycheck, continue to expand the nanny state's role."

  • ||

    Don't be such a libertard. Don't you remember that time they tried to save us from a zombification virus?

  • ||

    With an extra $224 billion a year, taxed at 100%, the government could decrease the annual deficit by 15%!

  • Warrren||

    This is a good plan!

  • Pro Libertate||

    They should borrow money from the extremely distant future. Like one hundred million years in the future.

  • BuSab Agent||

    I first scanned this as increase the annual deficit by 15%....which is what would actually happen.

  • JackColton||

    I think its interesting in this article (and headline) that they failed to show the opposing viewpoint of how much the alcohol industry ADDS to the U.S. Economy, which is about $400 Billion a year and 3.9 million jobs. From purely a numbers standpoint, the productivity argument loses by almost half. I'd also personally argue that a lot of business deals (as well as relationships) rely on drinking in social settings, which likely adds a pretty substantive chunk to the debate.

  • Killazontherun||

    Hangovers Cost the Economy $224 Billion Says CDC

    I feel sorry for the guy. Poor Economy, having to fork over huge sums of money like that to pay for our binges. Makes me feel like an ungrateful asshole to treat him the way I do.

  • Brett L||

    Fucking one dog does, in fact, make you a dog-fucker, CDC. However, for everyone else, the dose is highly dependent. Go fuck yourself and your neo-prohibitionist buddies.

  • Brett L||

    Never forget!

    I wonder if alcohol was involved.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    When it first loaded I assumed the bestiality charges were for having sex with her.

  • datcv||

    All work and no play make Homer Simpson something something.

  • ||

    Go crazy?

  • Brett L||

    Go Crazy?

  • ||

    DON'T MIND IF I DO!!!

  • Warrren||

    gO crazy?

  • DJF||

    Government gives me a headache and makes my stomach feel queasy. How much does that cost?

  • pan fried wylie||

    Seriously, since the diabetes, I've lost far more productivity to rage-binges than to alcohol.

  • SIV||

    Abolish the CDC
    Bunch a dog fucking parasites.

  • Brett L||

    Jinx!

  • Warrren||

    Kwame • 2 years ago

    This and continuous atrocities committed and learned from these Caucasian devils (the only devils there truly are) strengthens the argument for separate states and independent nation for Blacks.

  • SIV||

    I can tell without looking your reading my local news comments.

  • Ted S.||

    It could be any local news comments.

  • ||

    Not in NH.

  • Killazontherun||

    Kwame is apparently unaware that the ceremony for joining the Kenyatta revolution against Western imperialism was to fuck a goat in a public ceremony while proclaiming death the the white devils.

  • Brandybuck||

    The one and two drink limit by the CDC reminds me of those classic (and still used) test to "Are You an Alcoholic?" It's impossible to take that test and NOT be an alcoholic. If you drink alone you might be an alcoholic, on the other hand if you drink socially you might be an alcoholic. Have you ever drunk too much? Have you ever made a special trip to the store just to buy alcohol?

  • John||

    Those tests are evil. I had a friend in college whose insane parents decided she was an alcoholic because they found her with beer one time. They sent her to AA and rehab. Those places are nothing but brain washing facilities. She kept telling them she wasn't a drunk and they kept telling her she was in denial until finally they broke her will and convinced her she was.

    Only years later did she finally get over the experience.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Here you go.

    3/20 = alcoholic*

    6/20 = General B. Naked (ret.)

    *it's like a chocoholic but with booze

  • General Butt Naked||

    Note that all "yes" answers are scored equally.

    So being treated medically for alcoholism is the same as wanting a drink after work, or drinking to be at ease in social situations.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Hah! 9 out of 20. I win! I win!

  • goneGalt||

    Q: Is drinking affecting your reputation?

    Uhh... it IS my reputation!

    Q: Has your ambition decreased since drinking?

    No, a marginal tax rate of 54.15 percent took care of that.

    Q: Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?

    You mean after reading Brickbat? Yup.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Q: Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?

    You mean after reading Brickbat? Yup.

    Brickbat, because the AM/PM Links lack the "definite time" qualifier, right?

  • goneGalt||

    Thanks pfw, now I have gin and tonic all over my screen!

  • Ted S.||

    Brickbats aren't posted regularly, either.

    They may be back-dated to a certain time, but they're not posted regularly.

  • goneGalt||

    For the record, I READ Brickbat at a regular time each day.

    But pfw's and Ted's larger point still stands.

  • Ted S.||

    One question per page?

    Fuck that.

  • Brett L||

    Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?

    Well, yes, but I assume its because I put my dick in crazy, not because I felt shame at drinking. Similarly, I would feel remorse if I slammed my dick in a door.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Hangovers count as remorse, right?

    Frankly, I'm glad they had all those "family" questions in there, otherwise I would have gotten something like 90%.

  • Brett L||

    Oh, I thought hangovers were the price you paid for giving 100% effort to drinking. Like when I "lose productivity" because I can barely walk and my legs hurt the day after running a mile flat out.

  • Archduke Trousersenthusiast||

    Q: Is drinking making your homelife unhappy?

    It keeps my homelife happy!

  • Archduke Trousersenthusiast||

    Q: Do you turn to inferior companions and environments when drinking?

    You leave my living room out of this!

  • Archduke Trousersenthusiast||

    Q: Do you drink alone?

    Does the Lord count as a person?

  • Brett L||

    "No, Jack or Jimmy is always there."

  • Sevo||

    Archduke Trousersenthusiast| 7.5.13 @ 3:33PM |#
    "Q: Do you drink alone?"
    Are you kidding? I can see all three of you!

  • pan fried wylie||

    Have you ever made a special trip to the store just to buy alcohol?

    Yeah, because you fuckers made The State sell it at its own fucking store. WTF?!

  • Brett L||

    I suppose if I could buy liquor at the gas station like the civilized state of Lousiana...

  • ||

    Hey, we even have drive-thru liquor barns and daquiri stores here.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    My friends and I made a drinking game out of it in undergrad. We had a group of us sit around and we went through the questions. You had to drink for each one you answered yes to, then tell a story about why it was a yes.

    It was actually a pretty fun game.

  • Jayburd||

    If you blow a .22 and are still conscious you may be an alcoholic.

  • Agammamon||

    “It is striking that over three–quarters of the cost of excessive alcohol consumption is due to binge drinking"

    When you define 'binge drinking' as broadly as 4 or more drinks on one occasion then its not 'striking' at all.

  • Brett L||

    2 cocktails and 2 beers over a five hour period and a full meal is dangerous alcoholic behavior!

  • Warrren||

    Especially if you're with broadz!

  • ||

    "Oh, and hit the throttle on the bourbon because I'm gonna have to, uh, bust you in the face a couple times."

  • Agammamon||

    Oh and since we're accepting that what they define as damage is actually damage then maybe we should institute a carbon tax to cover the externalities.

  • Warrren||

    a carbourbon tax if you will sir! If you will!

  • Agammamon||

    Nah, alcohol's got carbon in it so we can tax it by the ton.

  • pan fried wylie||

    and "carbourbon" might imply that drinking and driving is part of the program.

  • DJF||

    They ignore the way to avoid hangovers. Don’t stop drinking.

  • Warrren||

    Don't stop drinking, tomorrow will soon be in the rear-view mirror!

  • Rasilio||

    Prohibitionists sure do love them some broken windows.

    Sure it is pretty easy to see that a guy who is seriously hung over at work is not going to be quite as productive as he otherwise would be, on the flip side you are assuming that he would remain equally productive throughout the year without the chance to blow off some steam and get drunk off his ass every now and then or that he doesn't bust his ass the rest of the week to meet his quota on production.

  • Harpua||

    Wonder what will come first.

    Death of the 24 pack

    Death of the 12 pack

    New restrictions on high ABV craft style beers

    Because your nanny knows what's best for you...

  • John||

    The thing is that these sorts of restrictions are always aimed at poor people. The products that rich people consume are rarely if ever targeted.

    So given that, 24 packs and malt liquor are in big trouble. I doubt craft beers are. Too many of the right people drink those. They will go after Bud and 45s and cheap rum and whiskeys.

    Think about it; when they went after food, they went after Mcdonalds and Big Gulps not the Capitol Grill, Georgetown Cupcakes or Hagan Das. They will do the same here.

  • Ted S.||

    Mixing alcohol and caffeine in an Irish coffee is fine.

    Mixing alcohol and caffeine in Four Loko is evil, because that's what the Snooki Class does.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Some of the Hagan Das brands are actually fairly low in sugar. Like, half the average of Breyer's, Hershey's, or B&J's varieties.

  • Rasilio||

    And that is why Hagan Das sucks when compared to Bryers, Ben and Jerrys, and most of the other superpremium brands

  • Zeb||

    I think it's probably more likely that you will see singles and 40s die than larger packages (see PA liquor laws). Like John says, it will be aimed at the things that poor people and young people like or can afford. Though I actually doubt there will be much widespread additional restrictions on alcohol purchasing (though I do expect DUI penalties and underage penalties to continue to become more ridiculous). Too many people would be pissed if that happened.

  • ||

    This alcohol problem is small potatoes. How many billions in lost productivity can we tally up every year because of children? Maternity leave, insurance costs, leaving work early or not coming in at all to watch sick kids, catching contagious diseases from sick kids, hiring babysitters, not to mention their footsteps in my lawn. I'll bet it's well over a trillion.

  • Zeb||

    Or sports, or volunteer work, or vacation. And what the fuck is up with this 40 hour work week, weekend shit. These are all scourges, stealthily stealing the potential productivity that rightfully belongs to the collective.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Which is why parents need so much tax subsidy from the rest of us....

  • Brett L||

    Not to mention those goddam child labor laws. Did you know my kid is gonna be a parasite until 15 due to do-gooder laws. I'll never get his productive value anywhere near break even just through chores.

  • Jayburd||

    They were drunk when they got pregnant.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Researchers found the costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 percent of the total cost),

    You have a duty to the People's Glorious Republic to maximize your taxable productivity, comrade! Failure to be productive makes you a counterrevolutionary!

    health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11 percent of the total cost),

    A personal problem if I've ever heard one.

    law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 percent of the total cost)

    Those poor officers, bravely enforcing those tax-farming statutes and putting their lives on the line by writing citations.

    The poor dears.

    and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 percent of the total cost).

    If someone crashes their car and harms themselves, what concern is it of mine? Perhaps the DoT should just mandate that American auto manufacturers install a BAC ignition in every car and add a surcharge to foreign cars without one? Or the government could just pass a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw the sale, manufacture and transportation of the Demon Rum?

    Life, liberty and property? No!

    The new American rights are Command, control and obedience!

  • Rhywun||

    I love how "any" drinking by a twenty-year-old is automatically "excessive". And they wonder why people scoff at government "studies".

  • Brett L||

    Apparently, there's something magic about being ejected from your mother's womb, regardless of gestational period, that resets the clock such that they can be accurate to +/- 24 hours.

  • Dweebston||

    What about the positive externalities drinking entails, such as rendering the joyless workaday existence tolerable, or joyless, dour sacks of shit like me bearable?

  • Sevo||

    I'll bet the CDC costs at least that much and you didn't have a good time last night because of it.

  • GILMORE||

    This issue is simply a distraction from the billions of lives lost every year to masturbation. assuming even 1% of those people would have been astrophysicists, we would we living on space stations now. ERGO MASTURBATION IS DESTROYING SPACE STATIONS. Think about THAT next time youre rubbing one out, you pathetic monkey.

  • Jayburd||

    I've thought about rubbing one out IN a space station.

  • Tony||

    I would have taken this vacation day at some point, so my productivity is only increased by not going to work today with a hangover.

    My party was awesome, by the way, and I feel sorry for any of you who weren't there.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement