Recent Developments in Alcoholism

Volume 14 of the series Recent Developments in Alcoholism pp 307-330

Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

  • Henrick J. HarwoodAffiliated withThe Lewin Group
  • , Douglas FountainAffiliated withThe Lewin Group
  • , Gina LivermoreAffiliated withThe Lewin Group

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The economic cost to society from alcohol abuse and alcoholism in the United States was an estimated $148billion in 1992. When adjusted for inflation and population, the estimates are generally comparable with cost estimates produced over the past 20 years. The current estimates are significantly greater than the most recent detailed estimates developed for 1985— about 42% above increases due to population growth and inflation. Between 1985 and 1992, inflation accounted for about 37.5% and population growth for 7.1% increases. Changes in prevalence have been associated with a modest reduction in alcohol costs. Though crime rates did not materially change over this period, criminal justice expenditures more than doubled overall, even after adjustment forprice increases. The balance ofchanges are due tonewfindings and/or methodology indicating larger impacts than previously estimated. It is estimated that 45.1% ofcosts are borne by alcohol abusers and/or members of their households, 38.6% are borne by government, 10.2% by private insurance, and 6.0% by victims of alcohol-related trauma (motor vehicle crashes plus crime). The costs staying in the household of the abusers may be materially incident on persons other than the abuser, e.g., spouses, children.