The Costs of Addiction & Risky Use | The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

Costs of Addiction & Substance Use

Cost of Addiction and Substance Use

Spending on addiction and substance use consumes 10% of the federal budget and 16% of state budgets. Of this, 96% pays for the consequences of addiction and substance use. By understanding specifically how this money is used and its limited impact, we can support policies that reduce these costs by increasing investments in addiction prevention and treatment.

Costs of Risky Use & Addiction Content

Health Care

The largest share of spending on the consequences of addiction and substance use falls to the health care system. Tobacco, alcohol and drug use cause or contribute to more than 70 other conditions requiring medical care, including cancer, lung disease, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy complications, cirrhosis, ulcers and trauma. Nearly 1/3 of all hospital costs are linked to addiction and substance use.

Justice

The second-largest area of federal and state spending on the consequences of addiction and substance use is for costs linked to adult and juvenile corrections and the courts. 85% of all inmates in the adult corrections system are substance involved and 65% of inmates (nearly 1.5 million) have a history of an alcohol or drug problem. By the time young people enter the juvenile justice system, 78% are substance involved, and 44% meet clinical criteria for drug or alcohol problems.

Education

The third-largest area of federal and state spending on the consequences of addiction and substance use falls to the education system. Substance use interferes with academic performance and the learning environment, increasing the chances that adolescents will drop out of high school, not attend college or not obtain a college degree.  

Costs of Risky Use & Addiction Infografic

16% of state budgets are spent on tobacco, alcohol and drug use

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