Binge drinking costs the U.S. $249 billion a year

hungover at work

Too much boozing at the local pub is draining the U.S. economy big time.

Binge drinking cost the U.S. economy a staggering $249 billion in 2010, according to a study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That works out to be about $2 per drink.

Hangovers in the workplace cost the U.S. a whopping $77 billion in lost productivity, while another $29 billion comes from treating people for drinking-related health problems. Other costs include alcohol-related deaths, crime and property damage, such as vehicles destroyed in accidents.

Another alarming statistic: Costs increased 11% from 2006 to 2010.

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"The increase in the costs ... is concerning, particularly given the severe economic recession that occurred during these years," said Robert Brewer, head of CDC's Alcohol Program and one of the study's authors. "Effective prevention strategies can reduce excessive drinking and related costs in states and communities, but they are under used."

It might be fun to throw back a couple of cold pints with buddies after work, but excessive drinking isn't something to be taken lightly -- it is responsible for about 88,000 deaths each year.

The study defined binge drinking as at least five drinks for men, and four for women.

Researchers believe real costs are even higher than their findings indicate, as data on alcohol is often under-reported or unavailable.

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