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The Economic Benefits of Addiction Treatment Versus Prison
Economics 2302 CRN 11789: Chu Nguyen
Fall 2013
Lisa Carpenter

The Economic Benefits of Addiction Treatment Versus Prison In 2010, it was estimated that there were 22.6 million Americans that were addicted to illicit drugs. The economic effects of drug addiction are staggering. It affects everything from health care costs to prison costs, to unemployment and social costs. In the past, the solution to drug addiction was to lock up the drug addicts and dealers in prison, get them out of the eye of society and the problem will go away. The prisons became overcrowded and new prisons had to be built to accommodate them. In the 1990’s, states started to implement drug courts and began to address the problem of addiction. By treating the demand (the addiction), the supply, and all of the problems that go along with it will ultimately be greatly reduced.
A woman, whom I will call Sarah, became addicted to the pain killer, Vicodin when she had her wisdom teeth out. For years, in order to feed her addiction, Sarah would go from doctor to doctor requesting the medication. Eventually, the addiction became so out of control that she needed more pills than the doctors were willing to prescribe her. At this point, if she just stopped taking the medication she would go into physical withdrawals similar to heroin. To get the quantity of medication she needed on a daily basis, she started calling in to the pharmacy her own prescriptions. She had once worked in a doctors’ office so she knew the information that the pharmacy would need.
This worked for a while, but eventually a pharmacy got suspicious and called the doctor’s office to verify the prescription. Finding out the prescription was forged, the pharmacist called the police and Sarah was arrested when she showed up to get her medication....

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