What addiction really costs in the USA

According to a report CASA issued this morning, federal, state and local governments spend almost half a trillion dollars every year — almost 11 percent of their total budgets — as a result of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and addiction. The worst part is that, for federal and state spending, about 95% of that money is spent “Shoveling Up” the mess created by a failure to provide enough money for prevention and treatment.
That’s right. Out of every dollar federal and state governments spent on substance misuse in 2005 (the latest data available), 95 cents paid for the enormous burden of this problem on health care, criminal justice, child welfare, education, and other programs. And only 2 cents were invested in prevention and treatment programs that could reduce many of these costs – and save lives.
1. See detailed expenses for your state and download the report:
Our researchers studied all federal, state and local budgets for 2005 using careful, conservative methods to determine how much of each major budget category was directly linked to substance misuse. For example, they determined how much of each state’s Medicaid and other health care expenses were due to one of over 70 medical diagnoses that are caused or made worse by alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and addiction. They did the same for criminal justice, welfare and other key government budgets. They also identified all government spending on prevention, treatment and research, regulation of alcohol and tobacco products and drug interdiction.
When the numbers are added up, the total is really shocking: 467.7 billion dollars. Spending less than 2% of the federal and state costs for prevention and treatment, and more than 95% shoveling up the mess, is upside down public policy that wastes billions in taxpayer dollars at a time when resources are scarce, and results in untold human suffering.
David L. Rosenbloom, President and CEO
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia Univ.
Source: CASA May 2009

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