Costs of Excessive Alcohol Use in Minnesota
Excessive drinking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S., contributing to more than 2,000 deaths each year in Minnesota. It is associated with acute causes of death such as alcohol poisoning and traffic crashes, as well as chronic causes such as liver disease and various types of cancer.
While lower amounts of alcohol use can increase the risk of harm from some diseases like cancer, excessive drinking is associated with more health and social related problems, incurring substantial costs due to premature death, injury and violence, crime, property damage, disease, and lost productivity.
Binge drinking, the costliest pattern of alcohol use, continues at high rates. In 2020, 18% of Minnesota adults reported binge drinking in the past 30 days, and among those 41% reported consuming seven or more drinks on an occasion.
In 2019, about 3% of inpatient hospital treatments were attributable to alcohol and accounted for 35% of the health care costs. Lost productivity accounted for almost three-quarters of the costs, including productivity losses such as increased absenteeism, impaired productivity at work and at home, premature mortality, and incarceration.
Excessive drinking includes binge drinking (consuming four of more drinks on an occasion for women, five or more drinks for men), heavy drinking (consuming eight or more drinks per week for women, or 15 or more drinks for men), and any drinking among pregnant people or those under age 21. Binge drinking is the costliest form of excessive drinking and adds substantial costs related to lost productivity, crime, motor vehicle crashes, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
Alcohol-related crime accounted for almost 25% of the overall costs, about $1.5 billion.
Who pays these costs?
What can you do?
- Use this tool, Check Your Drinking, to learn more about your drinking.
- Make a plan not to drink or to drink less.
What can communities and states do?
There are a number of potential strategies communities can consider to address this issue. For example, the Community Preventive Services Taskforce has identified several evidence-based recommendations to reduce the likelihood of excessive drinking, including drinking underage and binge drinking, and the related harms. Visit the community guide to learn more.
Closer to home, one strategy being implemented to reduce the harms of excessive drinking is called Place of Last Drink (POLD). POLD is an initiative in almost 30 Minnesota communities that systematically collects data on where individuals last drank when they are stopped for any type of alcohol-related incident (e.g., traffic stop, domestic violence). Establishments that are named more frequently can be offered assistance and education to improve practices to reduce illegal service to already intoxicated patrons.