Friday, May 29, 2009

Shoveling Up the Mess

This went out on a mass email. I liked it and I decided that since the author wants it disseminated, he wouldn't mind being made a Guest Blogger:

According to a report CASA issued this morning, federal, state and local governments spend almost half a trillion dollars every year -- almost 11 percent of their total budgets -- as a result of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and addiction. The worst part is that, for federal and state spending, about 95% of that money is spent "Shoveling Up" the mess created by a failure to provide enough money for prevention and treatment.
That's right. Out of every dollar federal and state governments spent on substance misuse in 2005 (the latest data available), 95 cents paid for the enormous burden of this problem on health care, criminal justice, child welfare, education, and other programs. And only 2 cents were invested in prevention and treatment programs that could reduce many of these costs -- and save lives.
This huge waste of money is hidden in many different budgets, so most of our elected officials don't have a clue about how much alcohol, tobacco and other drugs really cost taxpayers, and how little governments spend to effectively address the problem. Maybe if they knew, they might do something. You can tell them.
Please do two important things today:
Our researchers studied all federal, state and local budgets for 2005 using careful, conservative methods to determine how much of each major budget category was directly linked to substance misuse. For example, they determined how much of each state's Medicaid and other health care expenses were due to one of over 70 medical diagnoses that are caused or made worse by alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and addiction. They did the same for criminal justice, welfare and other key government budgets. They also identified all government spending on prevention, treatment and research, regulation of alcohol and tobacco products and drug interdiction.
When the numbers are added up, the total is really shocking: 467.7 billion dollars. Spending less than 2% of the federal and state costs for prevention and treatment, and more than 95% shoveling up the mess, is upside down public policy that wastes billions in taxpayer dollars at a time when resources are scarce, and results in untold human suffering.
Our leaders need to make new investments in prevention and treatment now to reduce the awful burden that untreated tobacco, alcohol and drug problems place on our budgets -- and our citizens.
Please act today.
David L. Rosenbloom
President and CEO
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
P.S. Please forward this important message to your friends and colleagues today.


Anonymous said...

Well we already prohibit drugs.... I have an idea! Let's prohibit alcohol and tobacco, too and put those offenders in jail along with the pot smokers.

Wait a minute...they tried making alcohol illegal. How did that work out? Stopped all the drinking in America, right?

Well, what about instead we make marijuana legal and let all the marijuana offenders out of jail now. It would save a bundle, maybe half or more of the total quoted. How many of you readers under age 55 have never smoked marijuana? Did you serve jail time for it? Do you think others ought to serve jail time for it? Do you want your tax dollars spent that way?

W(?)W said...

That method of estimation didn't sound conservative to me, frankly. If you count all the medicaid etc. money that goes toward treating diagnoses that are caused or made worse by AT&D, you should be careful to only count the percentage of the time that it is caused by AT&D, and the exact amount of extra treatment if it's made worse by AT&D. Either the reporting wasn't very specific, or the accounting wasn't.

Anonymous, I'm 27 and have never smoked pot, but I'm certainly willing (and have been) to explore legalization. I have to say though, if it wasn't illegal I would have, and then maybe it would be another one of my 'crutches', and I don't want any more. Than again, I manage to drink only moderately. Maybe only books and the internet really allow me to escape reality... and I DEFINITELY don't think either of those should be illegal. :)