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Report: Cost of binge drinking in Wisconsin is $6.8 billion


GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsinites spend more money on binge drinkers than in educating their children.

That’s according to the Health First Wisconsin group.

It says the total price tag for binge drinking is $6.8 billion a year – which includes the drinkers’ health care, premature deaths, lost work time, traffic crashes, and court cases. The group says 40 percent of those costs are covered by taxpayers.

Health First did not say how it came up with its cost figures – but their total price tag is about $600 million more than what the state Department of Public Instruction spends. And a host of public institutions support those numbers.

Public health and criminal justice officials, health care leaders, business owners, and others joined Health First Wisconsin members during simultaneous Tuesday morning news conferences in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, La Crosse, and Wausau.

It’s been said for years that Wisconsin has the highest rates of binge drinking in the nation. That’s defined by men who have 5 or more drinks at one sitting – and women who have 4 drinks or more at a time.

Maureen Busalacchi of Health First Wisconsin says it’s always been known that the state has a serious problem with alcohol but, “Until today, most of us could only guess about the scale of the problem, and the cost we all pay.”