Addiction Should Matter to Policymakers
Addiction and risky substance use constitute the largest preventable and most costly public health problem in the U.S. More than 20% of deaths in the U.S. are attributable to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use.
As a country, we fail to routinely screen for risky substance use and intervene as needed. Only about 1 in 10 people with addiction receive any form of care. Most treatment that is offered fails to meet quality standards. Because we fail to prevent risky use and treat addiction effectively, substantial costs fall largely to the government.
The taxpayer tab for government spending on addiction and risky substance use totals over $467.7 billion a year, almost $1,500 a year for every person in America. Of every state and federal tax dollar spent on the problem, less than 2 cents goes to prevention and treatment while 96 cents goes to coping with the consequences of our failure to prevent and treat it. Take a look at our interactive map of state spending on addiction and risky use.