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Study shows how much binge drinking costs Wisconsin economy

A new study by the UW Population Health Institute reveals the financial magnitude of adult binge drinking in Wisconsin.

In 2018, binge drinking in Wisconsin cost almost $4 billion a year, which is approximately $700 per Wisconsin resident, according to a study from the UW Population Health Institute at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

The study shows that $2.6 billion is in lost productivity, more than two-thirds of the economic cost of binge drinking.

“This important report makes it clear that every resident of Wisconsin, regardless of age or personal alcohol use, pays for binge drinking,” said Julia Sherman, coordinator, Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project at UW-Madison, who was a reviewer of the report. “By providing county estimates based on local data, this report enables a local discussion of binge drinking and the binge drinking tab we are all paying.”

The Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project provides training, tools and technical assistance to municipalities, law enforcement, public health and community groups working to improve the alcohol environment and reduce alcohol-related problems.

The Burden of Binge Drinking in Wisconsin report,fundedbyaSubstanceAbuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, highlights Wisconsin state and countylevel costs associated with binge drinking, a sub-category of excessive alcohol consumption.

In 2018, excessive alcohol consumption in Wisconsin contributed to approximately 79,000 alcohol-related hospitalizations, 25,000 driving under the influence arrests and 2,500 alcohol-related deaths, according to statistics from the Wisconsin Departments of Health Services and Justice.

Binge drinking is responsible for the majority of the excessive alcohol consumption costs in Wisconsin and is a critical public health concern, the study showed.

This data can be used to help guide local changes in policy and the implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies can reduce the negative health, social and economic impacts of binge drinking, according to Sherman.

“There are serious health risks associated with binge drinking and now we also know the financial cost it is inflicting on the state,” Sherman said. “We hope this report can be used to help facilitate discussion at the local level about the use of evidence-based prevention strategies, which can reduce the negative health, social and economic impacts of binge drinking.”