Costs of Alcohol Abuse

Did you know that the destructive and irresponsible use of alcohol and other drugs costs North Carolina more than $6.8 billion annually? About 15% of the entire national health care budget is spent on treating conditions realted to substance abuse, including alcohol. Lost productivity, accidents, injuries, illnesses, property damage, violence and higher utilization of health, social and criminal justice systems contribute to this significant financial burden. These figures does not include the inestimable cost of human suffering... shattered families, unmet potentials and premature deaths.

Research shows the majority of these problems can be directly attributed to people with the disease of alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease of the brain which transforms the judgment and behavior of usually caring and responsible people and turns them into uncaring, irresponsible, and often, aggressive and violent people. Alcohol is found in the offender, victim or both in almost half of all homicides and serious assaults, as well as in a high percentage of robberies, sex-related crimes and incidents of domestic violence. -- National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Drinking alcohol when pregnant may cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects. It is the leading known environmental cause of mental retardation and one that is entirely preventable. -- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

On average, people with untreated alcoholism require increased general health care, including for illness and injury. These health care costs are estimated at least 100% higher than people who do not have alcoholism. -- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


For more information, see the NIAAA's report on Alcohol Alert on Estimating the Economic Cost of Alcohol Abuse.