500 Lambda Circle, Apt A, Wernersville, PA 19565 

Helping Those Who Need It Most - One Day At A Time

Just the Facts

Costs of Untreated Addiction

  • Every person in the U.S. pays about $1000 per year for unnecessary healthcare, extra law enforcement, auto crashes, crime, and lost productivity from untreated addiction. 

  • The total economic costs of untreated addiction and its related effects was estimated in 1995 at $274.8 billion, $165 billion for alcohol addiction and $109.8 billion for other drug addiction. These numbers continue to increase annually.

  • Crime related to untreated addiction costs the nation an estimated $57 billion per year (not including medical expenses).

  • Overall health care costs for untreated addiction was around $28.7 billion in 1992 and increases annually.

  • Approximately 80% of all crime in the U.S. is related to drug or alcohol addiction.

  • Alcohol is a key factor in 68% of manslaughters, 62% of all assaults, 54% of all murders and attempted murders, 48% of all robberies, and 44% of all burglaries.

  • Approximately 135,000 die each year as a consequence of alcohol and drugs, costing about $46 billion dollars each year.

  • Addiction costs businesses an estimated $100 billion dollars a year.

  • Alcoholism is associated with 25% of all hospital admissions.

  • About 22% of the annual Medicare budget is spent on inpatient hospital care.

  • About 17% of the annual Medicaid budget is spent on addiction.

  • An estimated 20 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

  • Only 50% of individuals who need treatment receive it; only 20% of adolescents with alcohol or drug addiction obtain treatment.

  • Of the $15,997,400 drug budget in 1998, treatment and prevention programs accounted for only $4,812,000. Most went directly to drug interdiction, intelligence, and international operations. 

  • In 1997, the Federal Bureau of Prisons spent less than 1% of it's $25 million budget on drug treatment for inmates. 

  • Millions of people needing addiction treatment are turned away each year because of lack of funding. 

  • In 1996, federal research spending on addiction was $656 million, while we spent $1 billion on heart disease and $1.2 billion on cancer. However, the costs to society of untreated addiction is
    estimated at more than $165 billion, while heart disease costs us $133 billion and cancer costs us $96 billion.

Benefits of Treatment and Prevention

  • Every dollar spent on treatment leads to a $7.46 reduction in crime related expenses and lost productivity. When health care savings are added in, every $1 invested in treatment for addiction yields a total return of $12 saved.

  • Treatment of all addicts would save more than $150 billion dollars in social costs over the next 15 years.

  • Treatment is 15-17 times more effective than prison. For every crime that incarceration would eliminate, treatment would eliminate 15. 

  • $7 is saved in health care costs and social costs for each dollar spent on treatment, a savings of over $1.5 billion dollars in health care alone per year. 

  • Incarcerating an adult for one year costs $37,000. Residential treatment costs an average of $14,000 and outpatient care averages $2,300 to $5000.

  • If only 10% of the 1.2 million inmates who are addicts (opposed to the 200,000 who are convicted drug dealers) were successfully treated, the economic benefit in the first year of work after release would be $8.6 billion - the benefit would continue to increase more than $8 billion per year. 

  • In 1995, the average annual costs of treatment for employees was $26.59 for company programs and $21.47 for outside services, significantly less than the average cost of $50,000 to terminate, recruit, hire, and train replacement workers.

  • The 1996, National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study, found that among 5,700 individuals treated in publicly-funded treatment programs, significant improvements were made
    one year after treatment was completed: 

    • employment increase 18.7%

    • welfare dependence decreased 10.7%

    • domestic violence decreased 77.6%

    • and shoplifting decreased 81.6%

  • A report by the Arizona Supreme Court estimated that the state's program to treat non-violent drug offenders rather than imprison them, saved more than $2.5 million in the first year.

  • A 1995 Cornell University study of 6,000 junior high students in New York state, found that students who participate in a Life Skills prevention program are 40% less likely to drink or use drugs than those who do not participate.

  • At $150.00 per student, a nation wide school based program for prevention and Life Skills training would cost about $550 million a year for all 3.75 million children reaching 7th grade. This is only a fraction of the $40 billion spent on drug control each year.

  • Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholic than those who don't start drinking until age 21. The risk for lifetime alcoholism decreases by 8% with each additional year of abstinence beyond age 21.