In 1998, alcohol abuse and alcoholism cost the U.S. government about $184 billion. This is far more than the government had spent for cancer ($107 billion) or obesity ($100 billion). The researchers said that by delaying the onset of regular drinking one can effectively prevent pathological drinking. It was found that people who began drinking before 15 years of age were four times more likely to become alcohol addict when compared with those who did not drink before they turned 21. the author analyzed information from several national sets of data to estimate the commercial value to the alcohol industry of alcohol consumed by underage as well as abusive and dependent alcohol drinkers.
The study included about 260,580 individuals aged 12 years and older. In 2001, an estimated $128.6 billion was spent on alcohol in the U.S. Of this amount, $22.5 billion (17.5 percent) was the value of alcohol consumed by underage drinkers and $36.3 billion (28.3 percent) was attributable to abusive or dependent drinking by both underage and adult drinkers. In the age group of about 12 to 20 years 47.1 % were current drinkers and 25.9 % fall under the criteria of alcohol abuse and dependence.
Pathological drinkers consumed three times as much alcohol per month as drinkers without abuse or dependence problems. The combined monetary value of underage drinking and adult pathological drinking was at least $48.3 billion, more than one-third of all consumer expenditures for alcohol. It was found that 96.8 % of the adult drinkers with alcohol abuse and dependence began drinking prior to the age of 21 years. Alcohol advertisements in magazines play a major role in exposing the adolescents more to alcohol and distilled spirit than adults of legal drinking age.