Alcohol abuse costs Switzerland dear

Alcohol abuse costs Switzerland more than CHF4 billion a year Keystone

Excessive alcohol consumption is not only bad for one’s health, it also puts a strain on companies and the economy in general. In Switzerland, the social costs linked to alcohol consumption reached CHF4.2 billion ($4.75 billion) in 2010.

This content was published on March 20, 2014 and agencies

This corresponds to 0.7% of Swiss gross domestic product (GDP) or CHF632 per person aged over 15. These were the findings of the only study on the subject in Switzerland, published on Thursday by the Federal Health Office.

The authors said the consumption of alcohol not only had consequences for an individual’s health, but also led to a loss of productivity for companies – most notably when drinking leads to premature death.

“It’s in everyone’s interest to reduce these costs,” the health office said on Thursday in a statement.

The economy bore the brunt – CHF3.4 billion – of the costs, mainly resulting from absenteeism and reduced ability to work caused by alcohol-related illnesses. Direct costs, such as health expenses and fines paid for offences committed while under the influence, made up the remainder.

The health bill came to CHF613 million, around 1% of the total spent on health for the year. The main problems were neuropsychiatric (withdrawal symptoms and behavioural problems), accident injuries and types of cancer.

Men were responsible for much higher costs than women, the study said, noting that alcohol consumption is much higher among men.

Compared internationally, with social costs equalling 0.7% of GDP Switzerland is in the lower range, according to the authors, saying, without giving examples, that the figure for most other countries was 1-2%.

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