Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to many different poor health outcomes. Chronic heavy drinking (defined as drinking more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women) contributes to a variety of alcohol-related chronic diseases, including liver cirrhosis and alcohol dependence. Episodic heavy (or binge) drinking (defined as drinking five or more drinks on a single occasion for men and four or more drinks on a single occasion for women) contributes to a variety of alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, poisonings, falls, homicides, and suicides.
According to the most recent available comprehensive estimate, the annual cost of alcohol-related harm in the United States, in 1998, was roughly 185 billion dollars per year (NIAAA, http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/economic-2000/index.htm). This estimate included health care costs, economic costs such as the cost of lost productivity, and the cost of other effects of alcohol on society such as crime and motor vehicle crashes. Given trends in the component costs since the time of this report, this estimate likely represents a substantial underestimate of current alcohol-related costs in the United States.
In 2006, the cost of alcohol abuse in New Mexico was estimated, based on this national estimate, to be $2.5 billion. The economic burden of alcohol abuse amounted to over $1,250 for every person in the state (NMDOH, http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/SubstanceAbuse/ER%20Alcohol%20related%20costs%20112309.pdf).
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