California is the most populous state in the nation. So it's no wonder that we have the biggest appetite for alcohol.

A new study based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control data shows that the societal costs for binge drinking are higher in California than in any other state: Our tab is $32 billion for one year of excessive alcoholic festivities:

That study, titled “State Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption, 2006,” is destined for the October edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Yeah, the data's from 2006. That's old. How do they know we haven't all 12-stepped it by now?

Okay. They know.

The researchers discovered that while California's largess produced the greatest overall costs for binge drinking, including work productivity, health care, crime, car crashes costs, and property damage, we weren't the place with the highest per-capita binge drinkers.

In other words, when you neutralize the population numbers, California would be … sixth in binge drinking costs if you include Washington, D.C. which was … number one.

Credit: Brian Erzen for LA Weekly

Credit: Brian Erzen for LA Weekly

No wonder congress can't pass just one of our president's proposals.

After D.C. was Alaska, then New Mexico, then Wyoming, then Colorado for the binge-cost championships. Yeah, the West represents.

Nearly one in five American adults (18 percent) has experienced binge drinking (or, as we call it in California, hangin' with Lohan), according to the study

Researchers said California's governmental binge-drinking tab was $13.7 billion in 2006.

Underage binge drinking cost us $3.5 billion in California, according to the study. Both those last examples were nation-toppers.

CDC director Tom Frieden:

Excessive alcohol use has devastating impacts on individuals, families, communities, and the economy. In addition to injury, illness, disease, and death, it costs our society billions of dollars through reduced work productivity, increased criminal justice expenses, and higher healthcare costs. Effective prevention programs can support people in making wise choices about drinking alcohol.

This study fails to account for the economic benefits of binge drinking, however:

Consider the money spent on taxis, tow trucks, after-hours clubs, spiked dog collars, relationship counselors, by-the-slice pizza, new teeth, nitrous oxide, BC Powder, Red Bull, lost clothing, drug dealers, disposable pink sunglasses, fire-breathing contortionists, bacon-wrapped hot-dogs, dry cleaning, party hats, ICP makeup, King Taco, raver pants and Head Begley, Jr., that guy at the head shop who looks kind of like Ed Begley, Jr.

So there you have it. The multi-billion-dollar binge industry: Bringing the American economy back one drink at a time.

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