Study Singles Out High Cost of Binge Drinking

By KBJR News 1

March 13, 2013 Updated Mar 13, 2013 at 8:58 AM CST

(NNCNOW.com)-- Binge drinking is a big and expensive problem in Wisconsin, according to a just released study.

The advocacy group "Health First Wisconsin" has studied the problem and finds excessive drinking adds up to billions of dollars in problems.

They say annually, binge drinking through a combination of lost productivity, premature deaths, healthcare costs, criminal justice costs, and motor vehicle crashes costs Wisconsin $6.8 billion.

$2.9 billion of that comes from the taxpayer.

In Douglas County, binge drinking adds up to $59 million dollars a year, slightly above the county average in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration says early education is vital to getting in front of this problem.

"What we need to do, is educate people so they understand the harm they are creating themselves," said Mike Huebsch, Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary. "Some people will make wise decisions, some people will not."

Those dealing with alcohol addicts and binge drinkers say the side effects are clear.

"It can really affect your liver," said Chad Braafladt with the Superior Treatment Center. "The withdrawals can take two to three days to get over and so you're sluggish--you're not feeling well--you're feeling sick so it's affects if you get to work on time."

But those working in the taverns lining Tower Avenue in Superior, Wisconsin say it's easy to point the finger at the alcohol industry when numbers like these come out.

"We pay taxes," said Darlene Lindberg, manager of Who's Bar in Superior. "We employ a lot of people in this town. You know if it wasn't for the bars in this town there would be a lot of people not working."

According to the study, in 2011 Wisconsin collected $69 million in alcohol taxes.

Written for the web by Zach Vavricka
zvavricka@kbjr.com