Setting Down the Drink to Save

December 10, 2010

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Photo: Courtesy of Nicholas Tarling

According to a study published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, the cost of drinking goes far beyond your bar tab or the price of a 12 pack each week. In 1999, the U.S. consumer expenditure was $116.2 billion. Underage drinkers contributed to $22.5 billion and consumers over 21 years of age were responsible for the remaining $34.4 billion. Being on a college campus, alcohol consumption is obviously going to be a popular trend for both of age and underaged students. Without a doubt our local stores and bars thrive off the college community, with a fair share of business from visiting parents and alumni as well. Besides the surplus of money that students, faculty, parents, and community members would save if they didn’t spend the weekly amount of cash at a convenience store or the grocery store buying alcohol, I was curious, just how much could you be saving yourself in medical expenses?

We know that drinking excessively, greater than two drinks a day for men and one drink for women, can lead to a number of health problems in the future including liver disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, increased incidences of violence and destructive decisions that may place you in danger. College is a point in one’s life in which many will participate in “excessive drinking” and may pick up drinking problems that follow them through the rest of their lives. So, are those who are partying and binging setting themselves up to spend more in future than those who casually drink during a Sunday afternoon football game or those who choose to abstain? Well, The Marin Institute reports that non drinkers and moderate drinkers have lower health care costs than those who have a history of excessive drinking. “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” and the amount of health costs spent on alcohol related accidents for underage drinkers is $3.7 million. Approximately 25%-40% of patients being treated in U.S. hospitals are currently being treated for alcohol related problems.

So, its easy to conclude that those who are drinking more often are not only spending more money on alcohol as they fork over cash at the bar or the liquor store, but also are setting themselves up to potentially be spending more money on health-related issues in the future. The future may be closer than you would think, as a large number of alcohol related costs are due to medical expenses form car crashes, violent episodes or suicide attempts. The best way to avoid having to spend more time in the hospital and more money on health costs, drink in moderation and drink safely! Cheers!

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