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Chew on this figure: $467.7 billion. That's what we spent in 2005 at the federal, state and local level as a result of substance abuse.
Now here's where all that spending gets really sad and infuriating. This is how we blow most of that money: By merely "shoveling up the wreckage" rather than actually dealing with the problem. For every dollar that makes up the hundreds of billions this country spends on substance abuse (and that means alcohol, tobacco, drugs) 95.6 cents is spent on dealing with the consequences: The justice system, health care costs, etc. Less than 2 cents of that dollar is spent on prevention and treatment of the problem. Less than one percent spent on researching how to deal with it.
Is it just me, or are our priorities upside-down?
In examining spending on a local level, the authors of Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse and Federal, State and Local Governments
took Nashville as a case study in local government spending. Here's how our numbers break down--not for those with weak stomachs:
We spent $3,800,000 on adult corrections in 2005. Of that number, $3,178,600 was related to substance abuse.
We spent $42,850,000 on health care. Of that, $11,007,200 was spent on substance abuse-related health problems.
As far as how the pie is divvied up, two cents of every substance abuse dollar is spent on prevention and research. The rest comprises the burden placed on our public programs in Nashville. According to the study, Music City spent a total of nearly $106 million on substance abuse and all its attendant problems in 2005.