The costs of drinking outweigh the benefits (for society)

A new study found that alcohol is a net drain on society, costing $2 for every $0.21 it brings in in taxes.

What kinds of harms are those? According to the CDC, they include:

  1. Medical costs (due to disease, like liver disease, heart disease, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in babies, several forms of cancer, due to deliberate acts of violence under the influence, or due to injuries caused by accidents sustained while operating cars or other machinery drunk)

  2. Lost productivity (people not showing up to work, or not being as productive as they could be, due to drinking; un-employment or under-employment)

  3. Criminal justice system costs due to prosecutions of drunk drivers and people who drunkenly assault others

The study’s authors advocate for raising alcohol taxes as a way to discourage the heavy drinking that causes most of the problems, and as a way to ensure that producers and heavy drinkers bear the brunt of the cost.

Higher taxes are a proven way to reduce alcohol-related harms.

But we of course think it’s even better to convince people not to drink. The US history with Prohibition tells us that simply stopping people from getting alcohol legally won’t stop them from drinking; if the desire is there, they’ll make their own moonshine. Likewise, cheaper and likely less safe alternatives will spring up, if all we do is raise taxes.

If you want to change the way you think about drinking, we invite you to try our simple app, Drinker’s Helper. We provide motivational exercises, a way to track your drinking so you understand why you drink, and a support group for accountability and encouragement. Try it free for a week!

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