The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) released a 287-page report yesterday that outlined just how much addiction and substance abuse costs local, state and national government. Looking at government spending data from 2005 (the latest available), they found 96% ($357.4 billion) went to “shovel up the consequences and human wreckage of substance abuse and addiction,” while only 2% went to prevention and treatment.
Download or purchase the full report: Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets
CASA found that for every $100 spent by state governments on substance abuse and addiction, states spent an average of $2.38 on prevention, treatment and research. Connecticut spent the most at $10.39, while New Hampshire spent the least at $0.22. Maine ranked 41, spending $0.71 on prevention, treatment and research, putting a burden of $98.75 on public programs. Average “burden spending” for the states was 14.8%. Maine was at 26.9%, giving it the highest burden of substance abuse and addiction on a state budget.
Here are some other key findings from the report:
- Of the $3.3 trillion total federal and state government spending, $373.9 billion – 11.2%, more than one of every ten dollars– was spent on tobacco, alcohol and illegal and prescription drug abuse and addiction and its consequences.
- For every dollar the federal and state governments spent on prevention and treatment, they spent $59.83 shoveling up the consequences, despite a growing body of scientific evidence confirming the efficacy and cost savings of science-based interventions.
- State governments spent $135.8 billion (15.7% of their budgets) to deal with substance abuse and addiction, up from 13.3% in 1998. If substance abuse and addiction were its own state budget category, it would rank second behind spending on elementary and secondary education.
- For each dollar in alcohol and tobacco taxes and liquor store revenues that federal and state governments collect, they spend $8.95 shoveling up the consequences of substance abuse and addiction.
According to Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s Founder and Chair and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, “Under any circumstances, spending more than 95 percent of taxpayer dollars on the crime, health care costs, child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and other consequences of tobacco, alcohol and illegal and prescription drug abuse and addiction, and only two percent to relieve individuals and taxpayers of these burdens, is a reckless misallocation of public funds… It’s past time for this fiscal and human waste to end.”
Take Action and tell your legislators about this report!