Hangovers are costing the U.S. economy

That alone can be invaluable, especially since the cost of a wild night might be pricier than one might imagine. A new report from the Center for Disease Control finds that excessive drinking—particularly binging, defined as more than four drinks for women or more than five for men—cost the U.S. economy nearly $250 billion in 2010.

To come up with this price tag, the authors, Jeffrey J. Sacks, Katherine R. Gonzales, Ellen E. Bouchery, Laura E. Tomedi, and Robert D. Brewer tracked the price of lost productivity, criminal-justice fees for alcohol-related crimes, medical bills, and other costly ramifications associated with heavy drinking. They found that the most significant cost was the lost productivity of hungover workers who either showed up for work barely able to function, or who were unable to show up at all, which cost nearly $90 billion. In total, all forms of lost productivity accounted for about $179 billion of alcohol-related costs. The researchers estimate that the government, and thus taxpayers, cover about 40 percent of the total $250-billion bill.

The cost of motor-vehicle crashes related to alcohol accounted for about $13 billion, and the cost of criminal-justice activities, such as arrests and court fees, associated with drinking were about $15 billion. (That’s to say nothing of the very real human costs inherent in such occurrences.)