MDH: Excessive drinking cost Minnesotans almost $8B in 2019

Excessive drinking cost Minnesotans nearly $8 billion in 2019, or nearly $1,400 per person, according to a new report by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH.)

Thursday, MDH published its study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in an effort to quantify the cost of excessive drinking. However, in addition to the economic cost, MDH notes that excessive drinking is also linked to an increased risk of violence and injury, like traffic crashes, and chronic health problems like liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

The department’s report listed a few key findings:

  • Lost productivity from excessive drinking accounted for almost three-quarters of the financial costs, including increased absenteeism, impaired productivity at work and at home, premature mortality and incarceration.
  • While only about 3% of inpatient hospital treatments were attributable to alcohol the visits accounted for 35% of all inpatient health care costs.
  • For each alcoholic drink purchased, Minnesotans experience an impact cost equivalent to $2.86.
  • Binge drinking contributed to 73% of the financial costs to society, or $5.7 billion, due to things like lost productivity, crime, motor vehicle crashes and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

“Excessive drinking can significantly affect individual health, but it also has a cost for families, communities, and the health care system,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “The financial burden is staggering, and of course there are additional psychological and societal impacts and harms in addition to those measured here. It’s important that we acknowledge these impacts and find ways to mitigate them.”

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, which is four or more drinks on an occasion for women or five or more for men, heavy drinking, which is eight or more drinks per week for women or 15 or more for men, and any drinking among pregnant people or those under the age of 21.

MDH says one of the initiatives being implemented in Minnesota to reduce the harms of excessive drinking is Place of Last Drink (POLD), which systematically collects data on where people last drank when they’re stopped for any alcohol-related incident. Those that are named frequently can then get help to improve practices and reduce illegal service to already-intoxicated people.

Health officials say excessive drinking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S., contributing to more than 2,000 deaths per year in Minnesota alone.

For a more detailed breakdown of MDH’s study, click here. MDH also has information on how alcohol can impact Minnesotans’ health here. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an online tool to learn more about drinking habits and help make a plan to avoid excessive drinking.