On March 12, 2013, public health advocates and researchers announced the release of The Burden of Excessive Alcohol Use in Wisconsin, which found that excessive alcohol consumption costs us $6.8 billion a year in Wisconsin. The report estimates that in Crawford County, excessive alcohol use costs $22.1 million. The Burden report is the first of its kind in Wisconsin to offer a comprehensive look at the costs of alcohol misuse to our state.
“The costs of alcohol overuse in our county are simply astounding,” said Rick Peterson, Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital, C.A.R.E. “We’ve known that alcohol overuse is a big problem, and we have seen the effects on our health and safety. Now we have a clear picture of the costs we bear as a community. We must use this report as a call to action for real change.”
The $6.8 billion we pay for alcohol misuse in Wisconsin eclipses the state’s $6.2 billion yearly K-12 funding through the Department of Public Instruction. Excessive alcohol consumption costs nearly $1,200 a year per person in Wisconsin, or almost $4,800 for a family of four.
In Crawford County, the costs of alcohol use are driven by the 25% binge drinking rate. The county’s binge drinking rate is2% higher than the state average of 23% and 9% higher than the national average of 16%.
According to the report, more than 40 percent of the costs of alcohol over-consumption are shouldered by taxpayers, at a price of $2.9 billion a year.
Every year, 1,500 Wisconsin residents die from alcohol-related causes. These deaths are preventable. The report reminds us that drunk driving is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health and safety threat of excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use also leads to health problems including unplanned pregnancies, falls, drownings and assaults.
“We have a daunting problem in Crawford County and the costs of excessive alcohol use are taking a toll on our businesses and taxpayers,” added Gloria Wall, Director of Crawford County Public Health. “Fortunately, we know what kind of policies would make a difference at the state and local level. We hope to use this report as a starting point to bring people together to rein in Wisconsin’s alcohol culture and excessive drinking. Our safety and health depend on it.
The Burden of Excessive Alcohol Use in Wisconsin was created by academic researchers from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The researchers used rigorous scientific methods to calculate the financial burden of excessive alcohol use and how those costs are paid for in Wisconsin. To view the summary sheets, Crawford County data, and the full report, visit: http://uwphi.pophealth.wisc.edu/publications/other/burden-of-excessive-alcohol-use-in-wi.pdf