Reducing Societal Costs & Consequences | Center on Addiction

Reducing costs and consequences

Reducing Costs and Consequences

Governments have considerable leverage to prevent and effectively treat and manage addiction in order to improve health and safety and reduce costs. A comprehensive strategy to accomplish this should include:

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1. Prevention Initiatives

Public Awareness campaigns
  • Educate the public about addiction, its risk factors and the importance of preventing the initiation of substance use among children and teens, preventing risky use among adolescents and adults and obtaining quality treatment for addiction
  • Educate specific groups of professional state employees (health care, justice, education, social services, etc.) who come into regular contact with individuals at risk for addiction
School- and community-based prevention
  • Implement evidence-based programs that are comprehensive, span all grade levels and are tailored to age, gender and culture
  • Implement community-based prevention programs that engage multiple stakeholders in the community to prevent adolescent substance use

2. Access restrictions for addictive substances

  • Raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco/nicotine products
  • Enforce minimum legal purchase age laws for alcohol and tobacco/nicotine products
  • Raise the minimum legal purchase age for tobacco/nicotine products to 21, further restricting adolescents’ commercial access to these products
  • Regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products
  • Eliminate flavorings in all tobacco products
  • Pass, maintain and enforce comprehensive smoke-free laws
  • Restrict the locations of alcohol outlets in communities through zoning laws
  • Maintain prescription drug monitoring programs and ensure that they are fully operational
  • Restrict access to all marijuana products and all other addictive substances for those under the age of 21

3. Routine screening and brief interventions

  • Require routine screening and brief interventions for risky substance use in health care setting and in other programs where the prevalence of substance use is high
  • Require all health insurers to provide comprehensive coverage for patient education, screening and intervention for risky substance use

4. Effective treatment

  • Require all insurers to provide comprehensive coverage for diagnosis, treatment (including specialty care) and disease management for addiction and substance abuse
  • Require adherence to standards of care set by accrediting organizations for treatment facilities and programs
  • Require addiction treatment facilities to follow quality assurance measures that continually monitor the appropriateness and quality of treatment services provided and the outcomes achieved
  • License addiction treatment facilities as health care providers
  • Require grants, contracts and non-insurance payment for addiction treatment to include quality of care measures for staffing, services provided and patient outcomes

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Federal, state and local governments spend close to $500 billion on addiction and substance use annually, but for every dollar that these governments spend, only 2 cents goes to prevention and treatment.

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