The Costly Impact of Alcoholism to Health and Society
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The Costly Impact of Alcoholism to Health and Society

Alcoholism is a problem that cuts across societies. For many years, many people in both developing and developed countries involuntarily surrendered their will due to the macho image portrayed by vendors about engaging in drinking sessions as part of effective socialization. But how much is the cost or value of alcoholism to society? Is this something that should just be ignored as part of the norm? Find out in this article.

Although alcoholism appears to be a 'normal' part of everyday life in many societies, it is in fact a costly malady that implies great economic value. While vendors get rich from plying their trade capitalizing on the addiction of some members of society who find alcohol an integral part of their lives, there are real disbenefits that could be incurred not only to those who engage in drinking sessions but also third party effects economists call externalities

Effects of Alcohol

Externalities are in terms of the costs that result from the misuse of alcohol, expenditures on alcohol-related problems, opportunities lost due to alcohol, illnesses resulting from alcohol abuse as well as the costs of pain and suffering of those who are addicted to alcohol and people who care for them or are hurt by them as a result of uninhibited behavior. Expenditures on medical treatment are high. Employees lose their jobs for failing to be productive in the workplace due to alcoholism.

Various illnesses arise from too much alcohol in the system including the following:

  • greater risk to cancer,
  • depression and possible memory loss,
  • heart disease,
  • obesity,
  • stroke,
  • genitals shrinkage and decreased fertility,
  • poor skin condition and brittle nails,
  • possible memory loss,
  • pancreatitis,
  • liver damage, among others.

effects of alcohol

Image Source

These externalities are a major consideration to policy makers recognizing the net effect alcoholism impinges on society. Despite attempts to control the use of alcohol by alcoholic beverages bearing the reminder 'Drink moderately' or the like and strict regulations against drunkin' drivin', many still fall victim to this apparently uncontrollable phenomenon. Many of the costs incurred in alcoholism relate to expenditures on medical treatment. 

Cost of Alcoholism

According to a Florida study in 2009, four categories of harmful events happen due to alcoholism. These are illness, injury, crime and traffic collisions. People get hurt, commit crimes and lose control due either the depressing or stimulating effect of alcohol. Premature deaths result due to vehicular accidents. This totaled $41 billion spent on the adverse events resulting from both alcohol and drug abuse

While many claim that there are benefits gained by alcohol drinkers from the intake of alcohol such as greater capacity for socialization (lack of inhibition) and the stimulus others gain from alcohol, these must be weighed against the ill effects. While alcohol trade is a billion dollar revenue generating industry that enmeshed itself in society, the harmful effects must likewise be measured and valued. In the long run, the greater populace may be placed at a disadvantage.


Drug Alcohol Services, Australia

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


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Comments (4)

Good work here.

The overall cost to society is immense isn't it? Certainly makes you think...

Well present and good information. I enjoyed reading it.

will fb it because alcoholism is taking its toll in our small state of kerala in India, where men drink and beat their wives and children and also die early.