Study: Binge drinking costs Oregon billions

EUGENE, Ore. - Binge drinking alcohol costs the United States billions of dollars in health care costs, crime and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Yet many Americans - at least 1 in 6 - continue to binge, defined as 5 or more alcoholic drinks in a short period of time for men, 4 drinks for women.

"It's kind of embedded in the culture, you know," said Eric Straubahar, a college student. "It's like very social and um after a few drinks, you know, maybe I haven't always made the right decisions."

"I drank to excess on numerous occasions," said Ryan Campeau, a visitor to town, "but usually the next day I'm able to pull through it with coffee."

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows binge drinking cost the US $223 billion in healthcare costs, lost productivity, court costs and property damage in 2006.

Of the 50 state, Oregon ranked 17th. Binge drinking cost the Beaver State an estimated $3 billion.

"It's not only the personal health cost," said Lindsey Adkisson, a community health analyst for Lane County Public Health. "You put your health at risk when you engage in this behavior, but you're also increasing the health cost of the community."

Adkisson said the community can prevent binge drinking and reduce chronic disease.

"We have to set norms and standards in our community that protect our youth," she said.

Adkisson said people ages 18 to 25 are most at risk for developing a habit, and that prevention starts with the individual and the community.

"Part of our responsibility is to have those conversations with them," she said, "and that we can model good behavior, safe behavior."