Report: Alcohol abuse cost NM $2.5 billion in 2006

AP News
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Posted: Nov 25, 2009 5:16 PM

Alcohol abuse cost New Mexico 993 lives and nearly $2.5 billion in 2006 in lost productivity, health care expenses and costs associated with property loss from crashes and fires, a new report shows.

The report, released Tuesday by the state Health Department, showed costs associated with alcohol abuse averaged $1.25 per New Mexican and were 26 times higher than the $97 million in tax revenue collected from alcohol sales.

The report covers 2006, the latest year for which data are available, and gives amounts in 2006 dollars.

"You have to examine it both from the human side and the financial side," Chris Minnick, a spokesman for the department, said Wednesday. "It's pretty shocking."

The 993 deaths attributed to alcohol that year represent about 27,000 years of potential life lost, the report said.

The leading cause of alcohol-related death was chronic liver disease, which killed 271 people. Other alcohol-related deaths were attributed to vehicle accidents, falls, suicides, murders, injuries and other chronic diseases.

New Mexico had one of the highest alcohol-related death rates in the United States in 2006, totaling 1.7 times the national rate.

The loss of productivity due to death, illness and incarceration accounted for 71 percent, or $1.7 billion, of the economic cost of alcohol abuse.

Sixteen percent of the cost, or $415 million, came from health care costs, including alcohol prevention and treatment programs.