In a recent Piehole post we toasted the craft beer industry for its steady growth in the midst of a tough economy. It turns out, though, that throughout the Midwest, and in Ohio especially, alcohol in all forms may be recession-proof. According to data released by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) last week, the geography of binge drinking in the U.S. highlights the Midwest as the country’s “Binge Drinking Belt,” with Wisconsin, Illinois, and the Buckeye State leading the pack. Binge drinking, according to the CDC, amounts to consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a short period of time.
With 20 percent of Ohioans 18 and older reporting that they binge drink, Ohio ranks 9th in the U.S. for the highest rate of binge drinkers. While we can’t be certain what makes our region so boozy, Peter Ambrose, regional vice president of behavioral health operations for WellPoint Medical Management, told The Dayton Business Journal, “Because of the economy, there are more people stressed out and medicating themselves through alcohol.” But while Americans may be willing to pony up the cash for alcohol, they may not be aware of the habit’s long-term expense. The costs to our country, according The Huffington Post, reached $746 per person, or about $1.90 per drink, in 2006 due to alcohol-related crimes, health care costs and lost productivity.
Does Ohio have a drinking problem? Could too much drinking slow an economic recovery?