Binge Drinking Continues to Drain U.S. Economy

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Yaneff_161015Heavy alcohol consumption seems to be hurting Americans in more ways than one.

Alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, has long been associated with its share of health problems. In fact, excessive alcohol use is believed to lead to an average of 88,000 deaths every year. That number includes one in 10 deaths in working-age adults between the ages of 20 and 64.

Excessive alcohol consumption is linked with depression, an imbalance in gut flora, concentration and memory problems, psychiatric disorders, ulcers, pancreatitis, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, fatty liver degeneration, angina, psoriasis, muscle wasting, decreased protein synthesis, and nutrient deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin C, selenium, B vitamins, magnesium, and essential fatty acids like omega-3.

Now, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heavy alcohol use is continuously draining the U.S. economy. Researchers found that drinkers cost the U.S. about $249 billion in 2010—underage drinking accounted for $24.3 billion, while drinking when pregnant cost approximately $5.5 billion. The average cost per state totaled approximately $3.5 billion. It is a major increase from 2006 when excessive drinking had cost Americans $223.5 billion.

The majority of the costs are from crime, low workplace productivity, and treating health problems associated with heavy alcohol consumption. The CDC study was recently published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

One of the study’s authors and head of the CDC’s Alcohol Program, Robert Brewer, commented on the study results: “The increase in the costs of excessive drinking from 2006 to 2010 is concerning, particularly given the severe economic recession that occurred during these years. Effective prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in states and communities, but they are under used.”

The researchers still believe the study underestimates the cost of alcohol consumption, since excessive drinking information is often unavailable or underreported. The study also failed to report other costs, including pain and suffering caused by behavior due to alcohol abuse.

Binge drinking is considered consumption of five or more drinks on one occasion for men, and four or more drinks in a single sitting for women. For men, 15 drinks or more per week is defined as heavy alcohol consumption. For women, eight drinks per week is considered heavy drinking. Moderate alcohol intake is considered two drinks a day for men and one per day for women, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Natural ways to fight alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction include supplementing with a variety of remedies such as a B-complex formula, a high-quality probiotic, chromium, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), L-glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, and a high-potency multivitamin and multimineral that includes zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A, and other antioxidants.

Herbal remedies are also used to fight alcohol addiction, such as milk thistle, kudzu, reishi mushroom extract, Siberian ginseng, and passion flower. Homeopathic remedies used to detox alcohol include nux vomica, sulphuricum acidum, quercus glandis, lachesis, arsenicum album, agaricus, lycopodium, and ignatia amara.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Sacks, J.J., et al., “2010 National and State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015; 49(5): e73, doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.05.031. 
“Excessive alcohol use continues to be drain on American economy,” ScienceDaily web site, October 16, 2015;
“Excessive alcohol use continues to be drain on American economy,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, October 15, 2015;
Murray, M., N.D., et al, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Third Edition (New York: First Atria Paperback, 2012), 265-275.
Balch, J., et al., Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet, Nutrition, Supplements, and Other Holistic Methods (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004), 514-516.