Cost of Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption in America in 2006 reached $223.5 billion. Overuse of alcohol occurs when an individual drinks more than the guidelines established for moderate drinking. The moderate drinking guidelines are no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.

Alcohol-related costs can be broken down into three major categories: healthcare, social (work and family), and legal. Of course, there is also the retail or actual cost of purchasing alcohol.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs related to alcohol abuse are more than $25 billion a year.

Alcohol abuse has a huge impact on the healthcare system. In fact, there are over
50 different medical billing codes where alcohol is a contributing factor. Abusers of alcohol can cause physical harm to themselves or others. Over consumption of alcohol leads to serious health conditions including cirrhosis of the liver, dementia, and suicide.

Social Costs

Alcohol abuse can have a devastating financial impact on families. Some of alcohol’s social costs are easier to assign a dollar value to than others. The social costs of alcohol abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Bad credit or borrowing at higher interest rates
  • Bankruptcy
  • Divorce
  • Higher health, auto, and life insurance premiums
  • Reduced savings for retirement and college funds
  • Treatment
  • Unemployment or lack of advancement due to absenteeism, lateness, and performance

Legal Costs

Overall, legal costs associated with alcohol abuse, including alcohol-related auto crash costs, amount to $20 to $33 billion a year.

There is an undeniable relationship between alcohol abuse and crime. Underage drinking, driving under the influence (DUI), auto accidents, theft, and domestic abuse are some of the alcohol-related crimes that law enforcement must address. These crimes affect the budgets of local law enforcement. Also, those accused of the crimes must often pay court and other related fees and fines.


Overuse of alcohol, even once, puts all of your finances in jeopardy. Alcoholic drinks costs more than other beverages; its overuse can increase your out-of-pocket healthcare costs and other debt; and prevent you from saving.
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