August 11, 2022
Excessive alcohol consumption cost Minnesotans nearly $8 billion in 2019, according to a new Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) study released today in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The study found that the biggest financial cost fell on heavy drinkers and their families, as well as the government and health insurance providers. Other parts of society, including employers, were also found to experience negative impacts from excessive alcohol consumption.
“Excessive alcohol consumption can significantly affect individual health, but it also comes at a cost to families, communities and the health care system,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The financial burden is staggering, and of course there are additional psychological and social impacts and harms beyond those measured here. It is important to recognize these impacts and find ways to mitigate them.”
The study shows that excessive alcohol consumption cost Minnesotans $7.85 billion in 2019, due to lost productivity, health care costs and other costs such as those related to criminal justice and accidents motor vehicles The total financial cost equates to $1,383 per Minnesota resident.
Binge drinking includes heavy drinking (four or more drinks on one occasion for women, five or more drinks for men), binge drinking (eight or more drinks per week for women, 15 or more drinks per week for men to men) or any drink between pregnant people or people under 21 years of age.
The main findings of the report include:
Lost productivity accounted for nearly three-quarters of the financial costs, including increased absenteeism, impaired productivity at work and at home, premature mortality, and incarceration. About 3% of hospital admissions were attributed to alcohol, but these visits accounted for 35% of all inpatient medical care costs. For every alcoholic beverage purchased, Minnesotans experience an impact cost equivalent to $2.86. Alcoholism contributed to 73% of the financial costs to society, or $5.7 billion. These costs are due to things like lost productivity, crime, motor vehicle accidents, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Established methods from national studies were used to apply alcohol-attributable fractions for health care, lost productivity, crime, and other effects (eg, motor vehicle crashes) to data from Minnesota in 2019, to quantify these costs.
In addition to the economic costs, excessive alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of violence and injury, such as traffic accidents, and chronic health problems such as liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.
One strategy being implemented in Minnesota to reduce the harms of binge drinking is called Place of Last Drink (POLD). POLD is an initiative of nearly 30 Minnesota communities that systematically collects data on where people last drank when they are arrested for any type of alcohol-related incident (eg, traffic stop, violence domestic). Assistance and education can be provided to establishments most frequently named to improve practices to reduce illegal service to already intoxicated customers.
Minnesotans can use this tool to learn more about their drinking and make a plan to avoid binge drinking (CDC: Check your drink).
For more information on alcohol and your health and links to additional resources, visit MDH’s Alcohol and Your Health website and Costs of Excessive Alcohol Use in Minnesota.