Underage drinking not only has serious health consequences for youth, but also costs the US billions of dollars.
In 2013, underage drinking costs citizens of the United States $56.9 billion, according to data from the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. These costs include medical care, work loss and pain and suffering associated with underage drinking.
Some of the specific problems associated with underage drinking include homicide, suicide, violent crime, property crime, high-risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisoning and the need for alcohol treatment. Each of these problems has a financial cost.
Nationally, the largest economic loss from underage drinking comes from youth violence (homicide, suicide, aggravated assault), costing the United States $32,637,000. The second largest loss comes from traffic crashes and costs $8,581,000. The third largest comes from high-risk sex (age 14-20), which costs $3,836,000.
Underage drinking even hits closer to home. The problem is widespread in Texas with about 1 million underage customers drinking each year. Out of the 50 states, Texas ranks number five for its percentage of alcohol consumed by the underage population.
Overall, underage drinking costs Texans $5.5 billion in 2013, or $3.50 per drink consumed underage. Similar to the national numbers, the largest losses come from youth violence and traffic crashes. However, in Texas, fetal alcohol syndrome among teen mothers alone costs a staggering $212.2 million.
The price of underage drinking makes the issue everyone’s problem.
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