With nearly one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 classified with substance abuse or dependence, addiction takes an emotional, psychological and social toll on the country.1 The economic costs of substance abuse and addiction are estimated to exceed a half trillion dollars annually in the U.S. due to health care expenditures, lost productivity and crime.

Addiction affects 23.2 million Americans — of whom only about 10 percent are receiving the care they need.2 While treatment is being shown to yield positive results, many families are unwilling to look outside the home for help due to concerns about both cost and, perhaps even more powerfully, the stigma associated with admitting there’s a problem in the family.

Drug Abuse Statistics

Drug abuse is a major public health problem that impacts society on multiple levels. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs and street drugs costs the nation more than $740 billion annually. These costs are related to crime, health care and lost productivity at work. The following breaks the numbers down based on the drug of abuse:3

  • Tobacco- $168 billion for healthcare in 2010 and $300 billion overall
  • Alcohol- $27 billion for healthcare in 2010 and $249 billion overall
  • Illicit Drugs- $11 billion for healthcare and $193 billion overall in 2007
  • Prescription Opioids- $26 billion in healthcare in 2013 and $78.5 billion overall

To put our nation’s $700+ billion alcohol and drug addictions price tag in perspective, here’s the estimated cost to our country for two other highly prevalent health issues:

  • Diabetes costs $245 billion annually4
  • Cancer treatment costs $87.8 billion annually5

Substance abuse is also responsible for much of the violent crime in the United States, including domestic abuse, child abuse, date rape and driving while under the influence. Recent studies show that approximately half of all inmates in the United States meet the criteria for substance abuse or addiction. A large percentage of these inmates committed the crime for which they are incarcerated while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and between 63 and 83 percent of those taken into custody had drugs in their system at the time of arrest.6

Financial Benefits of Treatment

Research shows that every dollar spent on substance abuse treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in law enforcement and other criminal justice costs. On average, substance abuse treatment costs $1,583 per patient and is associated with a cost offset of $11,487 – that exceeds a 7:1 ratio of benefits to costs.7

Traditional Treatment Models that Have Proven to Be Most Effective

Couple in counselingThree well-known examples of inpatient treatment, each serving a different type of clientele, include: therapy-based programs, 12-Step programs and multi-modality programs. Intervening early – before drug use or excessive alcohol use progresses to addiction – is among the most cost-effective ways to address substance abuse, reduce its costs to society, and improve public health. Too often, individuals with substance use problems believe that only severe cases of addiction require treatment; thus, many do not seek treatment until long after initiation, when their use has produced significant social, economic, health and/or legal consequences.

The benefits of investing in early intervention and treatment for substance use disorders are indeed substantial. Addiction – like other chronic diseases – can be managed successfully with appropriate access to quality treatment. Early intervention tools can be implemented in existing systems, such as primary care settings and hospitals, to allow quick responses to substance use disorders and provide care for greater numbers of people. The overarching goal of treatment should be to help individuals achieve stable, long-term recovery and become productive members of society, and to eliminate the public health, public safety, and economic consequences associated with addiction.5

What Price for Life Restored?

What cost can be placed on a life, a person’s value to a family, and the fruits that can come through the reclaimed productivity of an individual – each one being so unique and significant to mankind?

Skywood offers a full-range of service options designed to reclaim and restore a damaged life.  The particular type and extent of treatment depends entirely on the needs of each individual we serve.


1 Sifferlin, Alexandra . “Drug Abuse Disorders Affect 1 in 10 Americans.” Time. Time, 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 10 July 2017.

2 Ibid.

3 “Trends & Statistics.”  National Institute on Drug Abuse. N.p., 24 Apr. 2017. Web. 10 July 2017.

4 “The Cost of Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. N.p., 22 June 2015. Web. 11 July 2017.

5 “Economic Impact of Cancer.” American Cancer Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2017.

6Incarceration, Substance Abuse, and Addiction.” The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2017.

7 Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Fact Sheet: Cost Benefits of Investing Early In Substance Abuse Treatment.” Executive Office of the President, May 2012. Web. 11 July 2017.