Excessive alcohol abuse costly for state

Excessive alcohol use cost Michigan $8.2 billion in 2006, or about $2.16 a drink, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Binge drinking, which is defined as consuming five or more drinks on an occasion for men or four or more drinks on an occasion for women, was responsible for 74.2 percent of excessive alcohol use related costs.

Binge drinking is one of the most serious problems on college campuses today. Nearly 30,000 students each year go to the emergency department to be treated for alcohol overdose.

The cost estimates were based on a CDC study that found that excessive drinking cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006.

Costs were assessed across 26 categories using data from several sources.

Researchers believe that the study’s findings are underestimated because it did not consider a number of other costs, such as those due to pain and suffering by the excessive drinker or others who were affected by the drinking.

Excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for an average of 2,700 deaths and 79,000 years of potential life lost in Michigan each year.

“Binge drinking is a very serious public health issue in Michigan – for adolescents and for adults alike,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

“Binge drinking results in many serious health problems, including acute alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related car crashes, and physical or sexual assaults,” Dr. Davis said. “It is all too common to see alcohol-associated injuries in our emergency rooms, and we are working tirelessly to reduce events like these in Michigan.”

About 18 percent of Michigan high school youth report binge drinking in the past 30 days, which is equivalent to the percent of adults who binge drink nationally.

The Michigan Department of Community Health is working to prevent underage drinking through partnerships with community coalitions, universities, and local law enforcement to ensure that alcohol is not being sold to minors.

The Michigan Department of Community Health is also working with the Michigan Department of Education’s school and adolescent programs on underage drinking and preventable efforts to reduce alcohol-related harms among Michigan youth.

Nationwide, the total cost of excessive drinking ranged from $420 million in North Dakota to $32 billion in California.

The cost is equivalent to $814 per person living in Michigan. State, local, and federal governments paid 42.7 percent or $3.5 billion, of the total costs.

Study authors also found that costs due to excessive drinking in Michigan largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (74.3 percent), health care expenses (11.5 percent), and other costs due to a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.

If you or a loved one is dependent on alcohol or drugs and needs treatment, it is important to know that no single treatment approach is appropriate for all individuals.

Finding the right treatment program involves careful consideration of such things as the setting, length of care, and philosophical approach.

Here, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lists 12 questions to consider when selecting a treatment program:

Does the program accept your insurance? If not, will they work with you on a payment plan or find other means of support for you?

Is the program run by state-accredited, licensed, and/or trained professionals?

Is the facility clean, organized and well-run?

Does the program encompass the full range of needs of the individual (medical: including infectious diseases; psychological: including co-occurring mental illness; social; vocational; legal; etc.)?

Does the treatment program also address sexual orientation and physical disabilities as well as provide age, gender and culturally appropriate treatment services?

Is long-term aftercare support and/or guidance encouraged, provided and maintained?

Is there ongoing assessment of an individual’s treatment plan to ensure it meets changing needs?

Does the program employ strategies to engage and keep individuals in longer-term treatment, increasing the likelihood of success?

Does the program offer counseling (individual or group) and other behavioral therapies to enhance the individual’s ability to function in the family/community?

Does the program offer medication as part of the treatment regimen, if appropriate?

Is there ongoing monitoring of possible relapse to help guide patients back to abstinence?

Are services or referrals offered to family members to ensure they understand addiction and the recovery process to help them support the recovering individual?