Alcohol and Other Drugs
What is the problem?Alcohol and Other Drug Consequences – An Overview
The problems caused by the use of alcohol and other drugs affect Minnesotans of all races, socioeconomic groups, ages, geographic areas, religions, and types of employment. Many people are affected directly as a result of their own use or that of a family member, co-worker, neighbor, or others. However, everyone is affected indirectly by the costs of alcohol use, such as higher health care costs, taxes, and insurance rates as well as lost productivity.
According to The Human and Economic Cost of Alcohol Use in Minnesota, the economic cost associated with alcohol use in Minnesota in 2001 was an estimated $4.5 billion. This amounts to over $900 for every person in the state. These costs are 19 times greater than the $234 million in tax revenue collected from alcohol sales. The vast majority of the costs associated with alcohol use are attributed to lost productivity due to alcohol-related illnesses and premature death due to alcohol use. These costs also include health care expenditures for medical consequences of alcohol use, treatment, and the criminal justice costs of alcohol-related crime.
Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs contribute to chronic disease, intentional and unintentional injuries, decreased productivity, social and family disruption, and lack of educational attainment. Alcohol use increases mortality and morbidity, as well as intended and unintended injury, unplanned pregnancy, poor birth outcomes, childhood development, adolescent health, mental health, violence, infectious diseases and chronic disease. Alcohol causes more deaths and illnesses than other drugs because of its properties and also because it is used by far more people than other drugs.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, youth who start consuming alcohol before the age of 15 are four times as likely to become alcohol dependent as those who do not start until they are 21. Underage alcohol use is directly related to criminal behavior and serious social and health problems such as:
- Suicide and homicide
- Traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities
- Unprotected or unwanted sex, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted
diseases including HIV/AIDS
- Physical and sexual assaults
- Withdrawal, depression and emotional/psychological difficulties
- School delinquency, failure and dropout
- There were 1,324 alcohol-attributable deaths in Minnesota in 2001
(about four percent of all deaths)
- On average, each alcohol-related death in Minnesota occurs 25 years before full life expectancy. In 2001, this translated to 34,425 years of potential life lost.
An Overview – Data Sources:
General information on alcohol and health by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/quickstats/general_info.htm
Minnesota Department of Human Services. Estimating the Need for Treatment for Substance Abuse Among Adults in Minnesota: 2004/2005 Minnesota Treatment Needs Assessment Survey Final Report, St. Paul, Minnesota 2006.
Grant, B.F. Dawson, D.A. Age at onset of drug use and its association with DSM–IV drug abuse and dependence: Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey.
Journal of Substance Abuse, 10:163–173, 1998.
Hingson R. & Kenkel D. Social and Health Consequences of Underage Drinking. Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, Background Papers (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004).
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