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ALCOHOL ABUSE COST MINNESOTANS MORE THAN A BILLION DOLLARS AND OVER A THOUSAND LIVES EACH YEAR

The results of alcohol abuse touch all of us in many ways. The most heart wrenching is through death and injury. These come from DWI traffic crashes, violent assaults while under the influence, alcoholic liver and kidney failure, and domestic assault. Alcohol abuse is treatable, but it is costly and becoming less available. Minnesota use to be the treatment state. We set the model for treatment and also for Sobriety high schools. The model is still there but the availability for those in need has become limited. Prevention is cost effective, but hard to find money for important programs. Money needs to be appropriated to address the abuse and addiction BEFORE it ends up with death and injury. One way to obtain those funds is to increase the state tax on alcohol (it hasn’t been raised since 1987) In 1987, the alcohol tax as a percentage of alcohol sales was 5.47%, in 2010 it was 2.79%.

THE TOP WAYS ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ADDICTION HARM OUR STATE

  • Alcohol use leads to domestic violence – 60-75% of attackers are under the influence of alcohol
  • Alcohol use leads to child abuse – it is involved in 1/3 of child abuse cases
  • Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths
  • Alcohol use leads to chronic health conditions
  • Alcohol and drug use leads to crime – it is reported that 36% of convicted adult offenders were under the influence of alcohol when the crime was committed
  • Hard core drinkers consume more than half of all alcohol sold - 10% of drinkers consume 50 – 60% of all alcohol (10+ drinks a day)
  • Hard core drinkers who drive are the most difficult DWI offenders to stop
  • Alcohol taxes pay for only 5% of the costs resulting from alcohol use
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WHAT WOULD $75 MILLION (about 7cents a drink) IN NEW MONEY DO TO DECREASE THE COST OF THE ABUSE OF ALCOHOL IN THE STATE OF MINNESOTA?

With that money Minnesota could…..

  • Increase Law Enforcement Measures to Reduce DWI Crashes
  • Have more funding for DWI Courts and Problem Solving Courts addressing population groups where alcoholism is a co-occurring or secondary condition.
  • Fund the 2 Sober High Schools that are operating now and increase the numbers in other areas of the state
  • Fund more compliance checks for underage drinking
  • Fund more intensive probation and chemical assessments
  • Fund more case managers in child protection and domestic violence
  • Fund more treatment programs available in the state prisons
  • Open more Detox centers and better support ones that are operating
  • Expand the money available for treatment programs
  • Fund more aftercare programs including half way and sober houses

This new tax money will fund the programs listed above and that will help cut down on the abuse of alcohol. With less abuse of alcohol, the state could save close to $600 million of direct costs. We, the tax payers are footing the bill for the results of alcohol abuse. Isn’t a fee of $75 million worth the savings of $600 million? Besides the monetary savings, there will be savings in lives, death and injury, and less suffering by spouses and children when the drunk or drug user in the house is no longer using.

Most alcohol consumers are social drinkers and they probably don’t drink more than 7 drinks a week. That comes out to 49 cents a week or $25.48 a year. That is one nice dinner out, isn’t that worth it for a healthier and safer Minnesota?

*http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/hpcd/chp/cdrr/alcohol/alcpdf/
HumanandEconomicCostofAlcoholUseinMinnesota.pdf