Recently, The National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) released a new report detailing the costs of substance abuse and addiction to local, state, and federal governments in the US. The 287-page report, Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State, and Local Budgets, is the first to calculate costs on all three levels.

According to CASA, in 2005 a total of $467.7 billion US was spent by governments across all three levels, in what was deemed a “reckless misallocation of public funds.”

Of the nearly half-trillion of taxpayer money:

  • 95.6% ($357.4 billion US) was devoted to cleaning up the consequences of substance abuse and addiction–crime, health care costs, child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, and other problems associated with addiction
  • of this money, 58% was associated to health care costs and 13.1% to justice systems
  • only 1.9% was streamed to prevention and treatment
  • of the rest of the money, 0.4% was spent of research; 1.4% to taxation and regulation; 0.7% to interdiction
  • $238.2 billion was spent by the federal government
  • $135.8 billion by state governments
  • $93.8 billion by local governments

Detailing cost effect solutions for this ill-fated spending, CASA offered remedies in the categories of:

  • prevention and early intervention
  • treatment and disease management
  • tax and regulatory policies
  • expanded research