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Alcohol Abuse Costs US More than $220 Billion a Year



From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report.

A new study has found that excessive alcohol drinking costs Americans more than $220 billion a year. But the organizers of the study believe the biggest cost comes from the loss of worker productivity.

Robert Brewer works for America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a public health agency. He helped to produce a report on the study. Researchers used findings from 2006 to examine costs linked to heavy drinking. They looked at results from around the United States and found a lot of variation in different parts of the country. Alcohol-related costs include health care, the cost of trying cases for alcohol-related crimes, and property damage from road accidents.

Robert Brewer says the biggest cost, however, is the loss of productivity. Many people with a drinking problem have lower-paying jobs. He says they may also be less productive when they are at work. Mr. Brewer says there is also a huge cost to people who die from alcohol-related causes. He says many are young, and their incomes and productivity are tragically lost. The researchers were mainly concerned about the cost of heavy alcohol use. The study did not look at the effect on individuals who drink a glass of beer or wine with dinner.

Mr. Brewer says the largest costs come from binge drinking, when people drink a lot of alcohol in a short period of time. The study was based on the economic costs of heavy drinking in the United States. But Mr. Brewer says many nations have problems with what the World Health Organization calls "harmful use of alcohol."

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.