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Economics of Substance Abuse

In: Social Issues

Submitted By tgup
Words 2958
Pages 12
Health Economics

Abstract Studies, research, and conclusions on the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment programs are numerous. However, there does not appear to be a single answer or even a manageable set of solutions for how to effectively and efficiently treat those suffering the ill effects of substance abuse. This paper aims to make the case that the most effective way to deal with this problem is to attack it at the source, by trying to eliminate, or at the very least disrupt, the supply of illicit drugs available for purchase and consumption. The attempt to make this case is done by pointing out the mixed results of previous substance abuse treatment programs and by using systems theory to explain why the complexity of treatment options makes it difficult to accurately evaluate such programs. The Economic Impact on Substance Abuse The effect of substance abuse on the United States economy is astronomical. Consider that in 2004, almost a tenth of the nation’s population ages 12 and older were classified with substance abuse or dependence disorders (Morgan & Crane, 2010). The issue is so complex, in fact, it is nearly impossible to put an accurate price tag on the impact. If one focuses solely on the economic impact of this epidemic, one would have to calculate numerous costs. People who abuse and are addicted to illicit drugs spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to feed their habit, which is money that could be spent in more productive ways. Substance abusers often steal to fund their habit, which has a negative economic impact. Furthermore, here is a negative impact on the health care sector from substance abuse. Government entities spend millions on everything from law enforcement to treatment programs because of rampant drug use. And those who seriously abuse drugs essentially remove themselves from society, where they would...

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