LA CROSSE (WEAU) -- The state of wisconsin is facing a multi billion dollar problem, binge drinking.
A report from Health First Wisconsin shows it’s costing the state $6.8 billion a year.
Wisconsin has the highest binge drinking rates in the nation, meaning consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more for women.
The report also says Wisconsin’s alcohol consumption is almost 30% percent above the national average.
“They should be astonishing to other people, I mean $6.8 billion a lot especially as I mentioned that the whole University of Wisconsin system operates on only a $6 billion dollar budget every year,” said Dr. Jeremy Arney, Health First Wisconsin.
The report says taxpayers are footing more than 40% of the cost which is about $2.9 billion a year.
One of the biggest costs to taxpayers is law enforcement.
“We definitely spend a lot of time and resources fighting crime and taking reports on violence on people that have been drinking too much,” said Lt. Patrick Hogan, Professional Standards Community Services Bureau, La Crosse Police Department.
Advocates working to change the drinking culture say it’s not about eliminating drinking, but trying to control the problem.
“What our goals are is to try to make if safer for people when the are consuming alcohols and that they don’t binge drink and risk harm to themselves or to others or to their community,” said Dr. Brenda Rooney, Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior Coalition
Health First Wisconsin says it would like to address the problem, by supporting legislation, such as higher alcohol taxes, sobrriety check points and only allowing those twenty-one and older to drink at bars, taverns and other drinking establishments.
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A new report says abuse of alcohol in Wisconsin costs the state an estimated $6.8 billion a year in health care, lost productivity, crime and premature death.
The study by the non-profit organization Health First Wisconsin says excessive drinking burdens the state's businesses, health care system, law enforcement and criminal justice systems. And taxpayers are picking up more than 40 percent of the price tag.
Public health advocates, law enforcement officials, medical professionals and others joined Health First Wisconsin in reporting its findings at news conferences in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau and La Crosse Tuesday.
The organization used a national study of the estimated economic cost of alcohol abuse and Wisconsin's proportion of binge drinkers to reach its findings.