Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
Source: Inquirer (PA)
Copyright: 2001 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Contact:  400 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19101
Author: David Ho


The Study Shows More Money Is Spent On The Problems Created By Addiction 
Than On Prevention And Treatment.

WASHINGTON - 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 yesterday.

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.

About $3 billion of the total was for prevention and treatment. The rest 
went to 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 the 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 found that New York state 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, and 
South Carolina had the lowest percentage among states, 6.6 percent.

The figure was 14.5 percent for Pennsylvania, which spent $3.5 billion to 
deal with substance abuse. New Jersey spent $2 billion, about 10.4 percent 
of its budget.

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

President Bush yesterday established a White House office that would 
distribute billions of dollars to religious groups to provide services 
including drug treatment. Califano called the plan "a big help" and said it 
was "long overdue to get the faith community involved with substance-abuse 

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.

"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 

Of the money 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 
demonstrated the need for a balanced strategy against drug abuse.

"We cannot simply arrest our way out of the problem," Edward H. Jurith, the 
office's acting director, said in a statement.

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 factors as the costs of special education for children with 
fetal alcohol syndrome and spending on security to cope with drug-related 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom