Alcohol and Costs to Society

  • 17% of Marion area residents believe that drug and alcohol use contributes to violent crime quite a bit
    or a great deal and 35% believe the same about drug and alcohol effects on crashes or injuries (per
    their response to a random survey in Summer 2004).
  • The Marion Police Department estimates that approximately 1 in 3 calls (excluding Operating While
    Intoxicated and underage consumption) involve alcohol, including fights, domestic violence and
    thefts/burglaries.

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For many people, alcohol seems like a great escape from the challenges of daily life. In reality, abuse of

alcohol costs people their families, their jobs, and sometimes, their lives. While it is hard to count the
total costs, here are some estimates:

  • The estimated total cost of underage drinking consequences was more than $58 billion per year
    (in 2000 dollars, when studied in 1998).
  • It was estimated in 1998 that the loss in productivity for workers with past or current alcoholism
    was $86.4 billion. The losses were greatest for males who started drinking before age 15. This
    means that local industries and businesses could be losing money due to alcohol misuse!
  • When 18- to 24-year-old current drinkers who failed to complete high school were asked, nearly
    60% of them said they had begun drinking before age 16. This means that the workforce, so
    important to economic development in a rural community such as Marion, is better off when
    teens don’t start drinking early. In addition, drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal, just
    like shoplifting. (All three above bulleted statistics are cited on:
    http://www.alcoholfreechildren.org/gs/pubs/html/Stat.htm#society
  • In 2003, the estimated cost of fatal crashes to rural Wisconsin was $765 million dollars. If the
    deadly accidents that involved alcohol hadn’t happened because people had chosen not to drink or
    didn’t drive themselves, we might have saved approximately $252 million dollars – over
    $45/person!

What can YOU do about this issue: If you own or have a leadership role in a business or industry,
support your workers in getting help when they need it. Develop an awareness campaign in your
organization. We can all support local school and police efforts to reduce underage drinking. Encourage
youth that you know to explore alternate activities, and tell them you want the best for them – don’t drink
alcohol! Get involved in the Marion Area Coalition for Healthy Communities to make the Marion area as
safe and healthy as possible. For more information, contact the Marion Area Family Resource Center in
the lower level of the library or at 715.754.2491.

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