Learn the Facts about Underage Drinking

Tragic health, social, and economic problems result from the use of alcohol by youth. Underage drinking is a causal factor in a host of serious problems, including homicide, suicide, traumatic injury, drowning, burns, violent and property crime, high risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisoning, and need for treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence.


Problems and Costs Associated with Underage Drinking in Louisiana

Underage drinking cost the citizens of Louisiana
$1.1 billion in 2005. These costs include medical
care, work loss, and pain and suffering associated
with the multiple problems resulting from the use
of alcohol by youth.1 This translates to a cost of
$2,241 per year for each youth in the State.
Louisiana ranks 20th highest among the 50 states
for the cost per youth of underage drinking.
Excluding pain and suffering from these costs, the
direct costs of underage drinking incurred through
medical care and loss of work cost Louisiana
$400 million each year.

Youth violence and traffic crashes attributable to alcohol use by underage youth in Louisiana represent the largest
costs for the State. However, a host of other problems contribute substantially to the overall cost. Among teen mothers, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) alone costs Louisiana $21.6 million.

Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and are two and a half times more likely to become abusers of alcohol than those who begin drinking at age 21.2 In 2004, 524 youth 12- 20 years old were admitted for alcohol treatment in Louisiana, accounting for 6% of all treatment admissions for alcohol abuse in the State.

Problem Total Costs (in millions)

Youth Violence $538.5
Youth Traffic Crashes $312.1
High-Risk Sex, Ages 14-20 $107.7
Youth Property Crime $58.7
Youth Injury $30.9
Poisonings and Psychoses $6.7
FAS Among Mothers Age 15-20 $21.6
Youth Alcohol Treatment $15.7
Total $1,091.8

Alcohol Consumption by Youth in Louisiana

Underage drinking is widespread in Louisiana. Approximately 206,000 underage youth in
Louisiana drink each year. According to self-reports by Louisiana students in grades 9-12:

  • 77% of 12th graders had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life.
  • 11% of 12th graders had their first drink of alcohol before 7th grade.4
  • 50% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasion in the past 30 days.
  • 29% had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (i.e. binge drinking) in the past 30 days.5

In 2005, underage drinkers consumed 14.7% of all alcohol sold in Louisiana, totaling $305
million in sales. These sales provided profits of $148 million to the alcohol industry.