Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Source: Log Cabin Democrat (AR)
Copyright: The Log Cabin Democrat
Contact:  1058 Front Street, Conway, Arkansas    72032
Fax:  501-327-6787
Author: David Ho - Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON -- Dealing with the effects of drug, alcohol and cigarette abuse 
cost states about as much as they pay for higher education, a private study 
estimates. States spent $81.3 billion dealing with substance abuse in 1998 
- -- or about 13 percent of their budgets, according to the study being 
released Monday by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at 
Columbia University.

The three-year, state-by-state study, titled "Shoveling Up: The Impact of 
Substance Abuse on State Budgets," put New York at the top in percentage of 
funds -- 18 percent of its budget -- spent to "shovel up the wreckage" of 
abuse. South Carolina had the lowest percentage -- under 7 percent. 
"Substance abuse and addiction is the elephant in the living room of state 
government, creating havoc with service systems, causing illness, injury 
and death and consuming increasing amounts of state resources," said Joseph 
A. Califano Jr., the center's president.

Only about 4 percent of the amount spent, or $3 billion, was for prevention 
and treatment programs, Califano said. The rest of the money spent was 
drawn from state services ranging from law enforcement and welfare to 
health care and education.

The report recommends greater investment in prevention and treatment, 
particularly among prisoners to keep them from committing drug-related 
crimes after their release.

"Governors who want to curb child abuse, teen pregnancy and domestic 
violence and further reduce welfare rolls must face up to this reality: 
Unless they prevent and treat alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, their 
other well-intentioned efforts are doomed," Califano said. 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.

State justice systems had the largest portion of the expenses attributed to 
substance abuse, spending $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, 
acting director of the office, 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 use at $277 billion annually, including law enforcement and 
social programs.

The new study, which does not include federal funds, 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 state resources. For example, to 
estimate substance abuse costs in elementary and high school education, 
researchers considered the expenses caused by all abusers. Mothers who 
drink while pregnant and have children with fetal alcohol syndrome 
influence the costs of special education when those kids go to school. 
Student drug use affects the need for drug testing and health care, and 
drug-related violence might require more spending on security and repairs. 
Teachers who abuse substances can cost the state in productivity, work time 
and more expensive health insurance.

Of the states, New York's estimated 18 percent amounted to more than $8.6 
billion. Massachusetts was second, spending 17.4 percent of its budget, or 
$2.7 billion, followed by California, which spent nearly $11 billion, or 16 
percent of its state budget.

Puerto Rico spent the smallest percentage of its budget, 6.1 percent, on 
substance abuse. South Carolina spent 6.6 percent, and Connecticut spent 
7.6 percent of its budget.

In terms of substance-abuse spending per person, however, the District of 
Columbia topped the list, laying out $812 per resident. North Dakota spent 
the least, $155 per person.

Susan Foster, the study's principal researcher, cautioned against 
comparisons between states because the report does not include federal 
funds and states spend different proportions of their budgets on social 
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MAP posted-by: GD