Only a tiny percentage of government funding for drug and substance abuse — about 2 percent — is used for prevention, while 96 percent is spent on substance abuse treatment, and secondary consequences such as crime and homelessness.
Of the 96 percent of the nearly $468 billion a year that federal, state and local governments spend, most of it spent on health care costs associated with substance abuse (about 58%), followed by the costs of prosecuting and putting offenders in prison (about 13%).
The report was released from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University.
Researchers determined spending amounts by analyzing federal, state and local budgets for the year 2005, the most recent year that complete data were available. The study is the first to calculate abuse-related spending by all three levels of government.
“[Government is] wasting billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and not making some relatively simple investments that could sharply reduce the consequences of drug and alcohol addiction,” claims Joseph Califano Jr., founder and chairman of CASA.
Califano says the main reason that federal and state governments aren’t ready to change priorities is because there is a stigma attached to alcohol and drug addiction.
“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,” said Susan Foster, the addiction center’s vice president and director of policy research and analysis.
According to the report based on 2005 data, New Hampshire spent 22 cents per $100 toward prevention and treatment of substance abuse, while Connecticut spent $10.39 per $100. The national average for spending by the states was $2.38 for every $100 spent.
Most of the cost to federal, state and local government is for health care issues from untreated addiction, which causes or contributes to more than 70 other diseases, the report states.
Source: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse