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Californians Are Biggest Binge Drinkers In The Country

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"Drunk ID Bracelets" (Photo by Jo Martin Photography via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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According to a new report released today by the CDC, California leads the nation in binge drinking.

Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks per man or four or more per woman on one occasion.

The cost isn't just to your liver. The price tag—which includes healthcare costs, lost productivity, as well as auto and property damage and court fees—amounts to $32 billion annually in California according to the study, which looked at figures for 2006.

"Excessive alcohol use has devastating impacts on individuals, families, communities, and the economy," said Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

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California is the nation's most populous state, but that alone does not explain its ranking; it also racked up a higher per-drink cost.

The CDC figured that the median cost per alcoholic beverage consumed nationwide was around $1.91. That's not how much people paid for each drink, mind you (which would be a bargain in any bar), but the cost of the combined negative consequences of drinking. In California, the cost was $2.25 per drink and $874 per person.

Who paid for all that? According to the study, 42 percent was the responsibility of federal, state and local governments and 41.5 percent came out of the pocket of excessive drinkers and their families.

"It is striking to see most of the costs of excessive drinking in states and D.C. are due to binge drinking, which is reported by about 18 percent of U.S. adults," said Robert D. Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., Alcohol Program Lead at CDC and one of the authors of the report.

According to the center, binge drinkers make up about half of the 80,000 drinking-related deaths per year in the country.

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The study is available online and will be available in the October 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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