A Layman cost-benefit analysis

In 1992 the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) conducted a research program and determined that the cost of alcohol abuse and alcoholism was over $148 billion. These costs were calculated from the following: premature death, impaired productivity, institutionalized populations, incarceration, crime careers, and victims of alcohol-related crime.Ceoec

Another document published in 2004, again by the NCJRS estimated that those costs have increased by 40%. So that number is close to $207 billion. (And that was 10 years ago.)

However what is most interesting to me as a layperson is that none of these costs include alcohol related/influenced diseases such as, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and a host of others.

The cost of diabetes in the US in 2012 was more than $245 billion. (American Diabetes Association). Another study by the CDC estimates that 18% of diabetes treatment is alcohol-related. So you could add that number to the 207 billion above.

I suppose I could go on and do significant amount of research. There is a ton of research which relates the consumption of alcohol to various cancers:

• head and neck cancer, particularly oral cavity, pharynx (the throat)
• esophageal cancer,
• liver cancer,
• breast cancer
• colorectal cancer

One of the studies I read said that they were over 310,000 alcohol related cancer deaths each year. Nevermind the cost of a death how long were these individuals treated for their cancer and what was that cost? Then – there was also a whole section of research that has been done on the relationship of alcoholism and cardiovascular disease. This gets brutal.

Now I want to look at treatment costs.
I read a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA) that said that the cost per admission of an alcoholic to a long-term residential alcohol treatment program was $3840 per admission. The cost for outpatient treatment was $7415 per admission. (I found it interesting that the cost of long-term residential alcohol and drug treatment programs was 40% lower than outpatient.)

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 4 million people receive treatment for alcohol and drug addiction each year. (The same study said that 23.6 million people are drugs and/or alcohol dependent. (So only a fraction of the 23.6 million people – 4 million seek out treatment.)

Now – of the 4 million – 934,000 of them received inpatient treatment at a rehab facility. Two other studies estimated the effectiveness of AA, outpatient treatment, or counseling/therapy only about 20%. That means that only about 20% of those seeking help remain sober for more than a year.

That has with the rubber meets the road – the National Survey on Drug Use and Health organization says that when individuals seek long-term residential alcohol or drug treatment – three months to a year that number doubles to 40%.
Okay – I am not going to do the math here. But if you calculate the health-related costs of untreated and treated alcoholism. Including the alcohol related diseases above; IE diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular, digestive and colon related healthcare. It is not a rocket science to see that it is a huge cost effective benefit to provide long-term residential alcohol/drug rehabilitation.

There is a whole other cost that is not mentioned in this blog article I wrote: that is the emotional cost of family and friends. I wonder how many days of work I missed by family members and/or friends who are trying to help and addicted person. I wonder how many hours of ineffective work are done on the job while family members and friends are worried sick, wondering if the person they love is dead or alive. Having been around the halls of AA, and been a patient at alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, I know this is not an exaggeration. Obviously as a recovering person I have strong feelings about the positive physical, mental, emotional benefits to both those afflicted with addiction, and those affected by addiction.

Obviously I am a proponent of long-term residential alcohol treatment, and/or long-term residential drug treatment centers.