Commercial Value of Underage & Pathological Drinking
Alcohol addiction cost the nation an estimated $220 billion in 2005 — more than cancer ($196 billion) or obesity ($133 billion). The alcohol industry’s enormous financial interests in underage drinking and pathological drinking are impediments to curbing these risky and costly behaviors.
In 2001, the alcohol industry earned between $48.3 and $62.9 billion from underage and adult pathological drinking, a value representing 37.5%-48.8% of total consumer expenditures. Other key findings include the following:
Individuals who engaged in pathological and underage drinking made up 25.9% of the American population, but consumed 47.3% of all alcohol consumed by underage drinkers.
Adult pathological drinkers made up 9.6% of the American population, but consumed 25% of all alcohol consumed by adult drinkers.
Regulate the alcohol industry’s advertising and marketing practices
Mount a public health campaign to educate the public about the dangers of underage drinking and of adult pathological drinking
Educate health care providers to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and know how to respond
Ensure availability of comprehensive prevention and treatment programs tailored to the needs of teens and adults
Require that insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, extend coverage for treatment comparable to other health and mental health conditions
This report is based on analyses of prevalence data from several national data sets, as well as alcohol consumption data from the alcohol industry.