Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Source: Waco Tribune-Herald (TX)
Copyright: 2001 Waco-Tribune Herald
Author: David Ho, Associated Press Writer
Cited: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse:


States spend billions of dollars cleaning up the "wreckage'' of drug, 
alcohol and cigarette abuse--about as much as they pay for higher 
education--but little of that money goes to treatment and prevention 
programs, according to a private study released Monday.

The three-year, state-by-state study, titled "Shoveling Up: The Impact of 
Substance Abuse on State Budgets,'' estimates that states spent $81.3 
billion dealing with substance abuse in 1998, about 13 percent of their 
budgets. Of the total, $7.4 billion was for tobacco-related illnesses.

Of the total spent, about $3 billion was for prevention and treatment 
programs. The rest was drawn from state services ranging from law 
enforcement and welfare to health care and education.

"This is truly insane public policy,'' said Joseph A. Califano Jr., 
president of National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia 
University, which conducted the study. "States that want to reduce crime, 
slow the rise in Medicaid spending, move mothers and children from welfare 
to work and responsible and nurturing family life must shift from shoveling 
up the wreckage to preventing children and teens from abusing drugs.''

The study of states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico found New York 
used the largest portion of its budget -- 18 percent -- to deal with the 
direct and indirect consequences of substance abuse. Puerto Rico spent the 
lowest overall percentage, 6.1 percent, while South Carolina had the lowest 
percentage among states--6.6 percent.

Cautioning against comparing states, Susan Foster, the study's principal 
researcher, said the report does not include federal or local funds. In 
addition, she said, states spend different proportions of their budgets on 
social programs.

President Bush on Monday established a White House office that would 
distribute billions of dollars to religious groups to provide services 
including drug treatment programs.

Califano called the plan "a big help'' and said it was "long overdue to get 
the faith community involved with substance abuse prevention.''

Total state spending in 1998 was $620 billion, with 13.1 percent related to 
substance abuse, the report said. By comparison, states spent on average 
13.1 percent of their budgets on higher education, 11.3 percent on Medicaid 
and 8.3 percent on transportation.

Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns agreed with the report's recommendation to 
invest more in prevention programs.

"This is truly a 'pay me now or pay me later' proposition,'' said Johanns, 
a Republican. "If not prevented, you will pay for it in an aftershock kind 
of way.''

Of the funds used to deal with substance abuse, state justice systems spent 
the most--$30.7 billion--on prisons, juvenile justice and court costs.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said the report 
demonstrates the need for a balanced strategy to deal with drug abuse.

"We cannot simply arrest our way out of the problem,'' Edward H. Jurith, 
the office's acting director, said in a statement. "Treatment programs that 
follow a criminal from arrest to post-release follow-up must be implemented 
to end the cycle of drug abuse and crime.''

Federal estimates, using 1995 data, place the overall federal, state and 
local costs of drug and alcohol abuse at $277 billion annually, including 
law enforcement and social programs.

The new study relied on data from the states about their spending on 
prevention programs, research and health care costs directly related to 
substance abuse. For indirect costs, researchers estimated the burden on 16 
areas of state spending.

For example, to estimate substance abuse costs on schools, researchers 
considered such things as the costs of special education for children with 
fetal alcohol syndrome and spending on security to cope with drug-related 

New York spent the largest percentage of its budget on substance abuse, 
followed by Massachusetts, California, Minnesota, Washington, D.C. Spending 
the smallest portion was Puerto Rico, followed by South Carolina, 
Connecticut, Wyoming and Arkansas.

Spending per person ranged from a high of $812 in the District of Columbia 
to $155 in North Dakota.

On the Net:

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse:
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens