Substance Use Disorders
- Underage drinking and its associated problems have profound negative consequences for underage drinkers themselves, their families, their communities, and society as a whole, and contribute to a wide range of costly health and social problems. There is increased risk of negative consequences with heavy episodic or binge drinking. Alcohol is a factor related to approximately 4,300 deaths among underage youths in the U.S. every year. Since the mid-1980s, the nation has launched aggressive underage drinking prevention efforts at the federal, state, and local levels, and national epidemiologic data suggest that these efforts are having positive effects.
- Commercial host liability (CHL, also called dram shop liability) holds alcohol retailers liable for alcohol-attributable harm caused by serving alcohol, illegally, to a patron who is already intoxicated (adult liability) or underage (underage liability). The Community Preventive Services Task Force, based on a systematic research literature review, concluded that CHL is an effective strategy for reducing excessive alcohol consumption. The current article describes the key components of CHL, its grounding in American jurisprudence, its adoption in the 50 states, and changes since 1989, when a similar assessment of these policies was conducted.
- Public policy can limit alcohol consumption and its associated harm, but no direct comparison of the relative efficacy of alcohol control policies exists for the U.S.
- The substantial health and economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption make its reduction a major public health and economic concern. The Community Preventive Services Task Force, based on a systematic review of the research literature, concluded that restricting alcohol retail outlet density through local land use and zoning regulations is an effective strategy for reducing these costs. Yet the implementation of the Task Force's recommendation is limited by state pre-emption, which determines the extent to which states allow local government to adopt policies and enact legislation.
- Candy Lightner, responding to the senseless death of her daughter caused by a repeat drunk driving offender, organized Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980 to bring attention to the tragedies associated with alcohol-related motor-vehicle crashes. Her one-person crusade touched a nerve across the country and prompted a national grassroots movement that resulted in a sea change in social norms, public perceptions, and public policy regarding the problem.1,2