Small part of drug-related state spending goes to prevention

The consequences of drug abuse cost the state and federal governments much more than they spend on prevention, according to a national report.
Substance abuse costs Michigan more than $5.2 million annually, but less than 1 percent of that amount goes to prevention and treatment.
And nationwide, taking into account both federal and state spending related to drug abuse and addiction, only 1.9 percent went to prevention and treatment, says the report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), located at Columbia University, in New York.
The big cash outlays go to the consequences of drug abuse in the areas of criminal justice, health care, family assistance, and elementary and secondary school spending, says the report.
The report, titled “Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Budgets,” says that in 2005 Michigan spent about $5.28 million, or 18.2 percent, of its $28.9 million budget on the consequences of substance abuse and addiction. Those costs included about $1.6 million for criminal justice , $1.4 million in elementary and secondary school spending related to substance abuse, $1 million for health care, and $300,000 for child and family assistance. Less than $50,000 was spent on prevention, treatment and research.
In a foreword to the report, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., founder and chairman of CASA, calls current government spending patterns misguided.
“The facts revealed in this report,” he says, “constitute a searing indictment of the policies of government at every level that spend virtually all of the funds in this area to shovel up the wreckage of substance abuse and addiction and practically nothing to prevent and treat it.”
The figures in the report are based on 2005 spending, the most recent year for which data were available, “but there is nothing to suggest that anything in this area has changed since then,” Califano says.
Abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illegal and prescription drugs cost governments at least $467.7 billion in 2005, the report says. The report also cites these findings:
v State governments spent $135.8 billion — or 15.7 percent of their budgets — to deal with substance abuse and addiction, up from 13.3 percent in 1998.
v If substance abuse and addiction were a separate budget category for the 50 states, it would rank second behind states’ spending on elementary and secondary education.
v For every dollar that federal and state governments spent on prevention and treatment, they spent $59.83 dealing with the consequences of substance abuse.
“Despite a significant and growing body of knowledge documenting that addiction is a preventable, treatable and manageable disease, and despite the proven efficacy of prevention and treatment techniques, our nation still looks the other way while substance abuse and addiction cause illness, injury, death and crime, savage our children, overwhelm social-service systems, impede education — and slap a heavy and growing tax on our citizens,” Susan E. Foster, CASA vice president and director of policy research and analysis, said in a prepared statement about the report.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette Thursday, August 20, 2009

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