Did you know twenty-five to forty percent of all U.S. patients in general hospital beds are being treated to alcohol related health issues? Neither did I. April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This weekend is the annual Alcohol Free Weekend (April 3rd-5th) aimed at bringing awareness to the destruction that alcohol can bring. Here are some surprising facts about alcohol and the costs it has on healthcare – and you.

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month

Being a nurse in the ER, I naturally come across intoxicated patients on a fairly regular basis. Unfortunately I have a snapshot into how bad of a drug that alcohol can be and just how much it contributes to chronic health problems as well as driving up the costs of healthcare for the rest of us.

Each April for the last twenty-nine years has been Alcohol Awareness Month sponsored by the National Council On Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). Take part this weekend from April 3rd to April 5th to help raise awareness to the problems that alcohol can bring (I think we are all aware of them).

Fun Facts About The Cost Of Alcohol On Healthcare

Think the cost of healthcare is expensive? I do too. Imagine how the costs could be lower if the rest of us weren’t paying for problems associated with alcoholism.

-Twenty-five to forty percent of all patients in U.S. general hospital beds (not in maternity or intensive care) are being treated for complications of alcohol-related problems.

-Annual health care expenditures for alcohol-related problems amount to $22.5 billion. The total cost of alcohol problems is $175.9 billion a year (compared to $114.2 billion for other drug problems and $137 billion for smoking).2
In comparison to moderate and non-drinkers, individuals with a history of heavy drinking have higher health care costs.

-Untreated alcohol problems waste an estimated $184.6 billion dollars per year in health care, business and criminal justice costs, and cause more than 100,000 deaths. 4
Health care costs related to alcohol abuse are not limited to the user. Children of alcoholics who are admitted to the hospital average 62 percent more hospital days and 29 percent longer stays.

-Alcohol use by underage drinkers results in $3.7 billion a year in medical care costs due to traffic crashes, violent crime, suicide attempts and other related consequences. The total annual cost of alcohol use by underage youth is $52.8 billion.

-Alcohol-related car crashes are the number one killer of teens. Alcohol use is also associated with homicides, suicides, and drownings-the next three leading causes of death among youth.

-Alcohol is the drug most frequently used by 12 to 17 year-olds-and the one that causes the most negative health consequences. More than 4 million adolescents under the legal drinking age consume alcohol in any given month.

And before I leave you, check out a video of a woman in San Diego who was so intoxicated she fell asleep in the middle of the freeway. It’s quite an interesting video so enjoy.

Please share this post to help raise awareness of the destruction that alcohol can bring. If you’re up for it, please take part in the Alcohol Free Weekend: April 3-5, 2015 – an integral part of alcohol awareness month.


1. N.a. “Alcohol Awareness Month.” National Council On Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. Web. 29 March 2015.
2. N.a. “Health Care Costs of Alcohol.” Alcohol Policy MD. Web. 29 March 2015.