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Heavy Boozing Costs Wisconsin $6.8 Billion a Year

A new report shows the eye-watering price of lost productivity, health care and law enforcement to the beer-loving state.

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Just another Monday morning in Wisconsin
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By Bryan Le

03/13/13

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Heavy drinking isn't just costly to the drinker. The University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse has found that excessive drinking costs the state an annual $6.8 billion in lost productivity, premature deaths, health care bills and more. “Wisconsin has a serious problem with alcohol,” says Jeremy Arney, a professor at University of Winsconson-Lacrosse. “Alcohol is responsible for alcohol-related traffic crashes, accidents at home and young people dying.” According to Arney's report, “The Burden of Excessive Alcohol Use in Wisconsin,” heavy drinking is responsible for 1,526 deaths, 48,578 hospitalizations, 60,221 arrests and more than 5,750 traffic crashes in America's Dairyland. Translated into monetary terms, Wisconsin annually loses $2.9 billion in productivity, $2 billion in premature deaths, $749 million in health care, $649 million in criminal justice, $418 million in traffic accidents and $90 million in other alcohol-related costs—a total of about $1,190 per each of its 5,726,398 residents. And disconcertingly, despite all this damage, Wisconsin is only the sixth biggest beer drinking state in the US—falling behind Nevada, South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota and New Hampshire in terms of gallons consumed per capita.

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