If you believe that substance abuse is a personal problem that only affects the individual, it’s time to examine the facts. The federal government estimates that the problems caused by addiction cost the U.S. billions of dollars every year in lost productivity, healthcare expenses, crime, and more.
“Every dollar spent on treatment leads to a $7.46 reduction in crime-related spending and lost productivity,” according to a 1994 study prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy by the RAND Corporation and reported by HopeNetworks.org. In fact, about half of all violent crimes involve drug and alcohol abuse; 75 percent of domestic violence victims reported alcohol was a factor, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Just as alcohol and drug abuse increases the rate of violent crime, it also causes a sharp increase in unnecessary spending for lost productivity, healthcare, law enforcement, and car crashes. The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment notes that $1,000 is spent for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. to cover these costs.
For many individuals who struggle with substance abuse, the collateral damage to family members is catastrophic. Job loss related to drinking and drugs can end with families relying on government benefits to sustain a meager existence. Homeless shelters, food programs, welfare payments, Medicaid and other essential programs designed to help those in need cost the country billions every year.
One estimate suggests that untreated addiction costs the U.S. more than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Of the roughly 23 million Americans who are actively addicted to alcohol or drugs, only a fraction of those individuals actually get help from a residential addiction treatment center. How much does untreated addiction cost the U.S.? According to Brandeis University, it costs about $400 billion every year.
Drug- and Alcohol-Related Death
The number of drug- and alcohol-related deaths has nearly doubled over the past 20 years. In fact, about 25 percent of people who die every year do so at least in part because of addiction, according to Brandeis. The lost potential, income, health and burial expenses, insurance costs and other uncounted sums such as tuition are unable to be measured.
The bottom line? More than half of all American adults have a genetic link to substance abuse, according to Brown University. Every day, children, partners, parents, colleagues, and friends suffer the financial effects of addiction.