April 17, 2014

Report details financial impact of excessive drinking

A new report attempts to put a price tag on alcohol abuse in Wisconsin. The study by Health First Wisconsin estimates excessive drinking costs the state nearly $6.8 billion a year.

Executive director Maureen Busalacchi says those costs are seen in several areas, with lost productivity in the workplace, the health care and criminal justice systems, and at home. She says “families are crippled by the cost of health care and treatment, and law enforcement dedicate an enormous amount of time and resources dealing with alcohol-related violence and crime.”

Busalacchi says the total breaks down to about $1,200 per resident and taxpayers directly end up covering nearly $2.9 billion of the overall cost. She notes there’s also a human toll brought on by excessive alcohol use, with nearly 1,500 deaths in the state each year from illness, violence, and traffic crashes.

Busalacchi says the report should serve as a call to action for state and local officials to consider measures aimed at reducing alcohol abuse, such as tougher drunk driving laws and increased funding for treatment and prevention programs.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:08)