The professional buzz kills at the Centers for Disease Control have no shortage of sobering alcohol statistics to aid their campaign against excessive drinking: 14,000 people die each year in drunk-driving crashes; 36,000 are killed by alcohol-related liver disease, hypertension, and other chronic illnesses; and another 5,500 are killed in drunken falls, mostly on St. Patrick's Day.
But if fear of a painful and completely avoidable death isn't motivation enough for everyday Americans to put down those vodka-bongs, maybe an appeal to their brokeness will do the trick. This week, the CDC came out with a state-by-state breakdown of the $223.5 billion that alcohol abuse costs the country.
Texas, you may or may not be surprised to learn, hits the bottle pretty hard. Not nearly as hard as California, mind you, whose tab was twice that of the Lone Star state, but hard enough to come in second place with $16.5 billion.
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That number is the sum of various costs, both direct and indirect. The CDC takes into account increased health care expenses, property damage from fires and car wrecks, crime, extra police and court costs. It also tosses in missed work, reduced earning potential, and productivity losses that occur when workers wind up dead or in jail or are simply nursing hangovers. Taxpayers bear about 40.7 percent of the costs, with drunks and their families picking up a bit more of the tab.
The CDC's numbers to contain is a sliver of good news for Texas. The state's place at the top of the list is due mainly to its size. When costs are calculated on a per capita ($703 per person) or per-drink ($1.89) costs, we're closer to the middle of the pack.