How Much Does Addiction Cost the United States?

facing addiction in americaIn an attempt to really shine a light on the addiction epidemic in this country, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report [1] from the Surgeon General about the current state of alcohol and drug abuse in our country. Among the many statistics, it was determined that substance abuse and addiction costs taxpayers $442 billion.

“The effects of substance use are cumulative and costly for our society, placing burdens on workplaces, the health care system, families, states, and communities,” explained Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in regards to the report.[2]

Although a fair amount of money is going into research, there are many who still feel that too much is being spent on incarcerating drug users and reducing the supply when those dollars would be better spent on education and rehabilitation. Many people in the behavioral healthcare field are concerned that political changes could negatively impact the legislative actions in recent years that have allowed greater access to treatment.

It is clear that with record numbers of fatalities tied to substance abuse in the past year, more must be done. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, as it could simply include spending it in more effective ways. There could also be additional sources of revenue collected that providing funding directly to rehabilitation and prevention programs. Ideas for this could including mandatory taxes on certain prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana (where it is legal) and other substances so that more dollars are going to addressing the problems associated with their use.

After all, the real cost associated with alcohol and drug addiction can’t be measured in dollars. It is the accumulation of heartache, loss, disease and upsets connected to substance abuse that far outweigh the estimated price tag.

If you have a loved one in need of help for substance abuse or addiction, contact us today to find out more about our program.