Binge Drinking is Expensive

Alcohol abuse in college can cost half a million dollars at the emergency room

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Drinking to the point of blackout and having to make a trip to the E.R. is dangerous and expensive, but college students do it all the time. Alcohol poisoning is starting to rack up some serious health care costs in the U.S.

A new study shows the high costs associated with health care given to binge drinkers in college.

Broken bones that need x-rays and setting, and head injuries that require CT scans are expensive results of excessive drinking. The study recorded that one in eight of 404 E.R. visits had to do with binge drinking to the point of blackout.

The conclusion of the study estimates that a large university, say 40,000 or more students, would likely rack up between $469,000-$546,000 in E.R. costs per year.

"Alcohol poisoning is dangerous, drink responsibly."

Marlon P. Mundt, PhD., assistant scientist at the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison took the data of 954 students from 5 universities over the course of 2 years. Looking for information on the physical health costs associated with alcohol abuse in college, Mundt discovered some pretty steep figures.

Mundt writes at the end of his study, “We conclude that blackouts are a strong predictor of emergency department visits for college drinkers and that prevention efforts aimed at students with a history of blackouts might reduce injuries and emergency department costs. “

50% of college students who drink admit to blacking out from alcohol abuse. Preventative measures could seriously cut the high cost of healthcare that results from alcohol abuse related accidents.

This study will be published in the journal Health Affairs, April 2012. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 16, 2012
Last Updated:
April 16, 2012