The report, "Shoveling Up II: The Impact of Substance Abuse on Federal, State and Local Budgets," breaks down government spending on substance abuse consequences in 2005, the more recent year all data was available.
Your Tax Dollars at Work
The report's "most conservative assumptions" include the following spending:
- Federal government, $238.2 billion.
- State government, $135.8 billion.
- Local government, $93.8 billion.
"Under any circumstances, spending more than 95 percent of taxpayer dollars on the crime, health care costs, child abuse, domestic violence, homelessness and other consequences of tobacco, alcohol and illegal and prescription drug abuse and addiction, and only two percent to relieve individuals and taxpayers of these burdens, is a reckless misallocation of public funds. In these economic times, such upside-down-cake public policy is unconscionable," said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA's Founder and Chair in a news release. "It's past time for this fiscal and human waste to end."
Key Study Findings
According to a CASA news release, other key findings of the study included:
- Of the $3.3 trillion total federal and state government spending, $373.9 billion – 11.2 percent, more than one of every ten dollars– was spent on tobacco, alcohol and illegal and prescription drug abuse and addiction and its consequences.
- The federal government spent $238.2 billion (9.6 percent of its budget) on substance abuse and addiction. If substance abuse and addiction were its own budget category at the federal level, it would rank sixth, behind social security, national defense, income security, Medicare and other health programs including the federal share of Medicaid.
- State governments spent $135.8 billion (15.7 percent of their budgets) to deal with substance abuse and addiction, up from 13.3 percent in 1998. If substance abuse and addiction were its own state budget category, it would rank second behind spending on elementary and secondary education.
- Local governments spent $93.8 billion on substance abuse and addiction (9 percent of their budgets), outstripping local spending for transportation and public welfare.
- For every $100 spent by state governments on substance abuse and addiction, the average spent on prevention, treatment and research was $2.38; Connecticut spent the most, $10.39; New Hampshire spent the least, $0.22.
- For every dollar the federal and state governments spent on prevention and treatment, they spent $59.83 shoveling up the consequences, despite a growing body of scientific evidence confirming the efficacy and cost savings of science-based interventions.
- With respect to children, for every dollar federal and state governments spent on prevention or treatment, they spent $60.25 on the consequences of substance abuse and addiction.
- For each dollar in alcohol and tobacco taxes and liquor store revenues that federal and state governments collect, they spend $8.95 on the consequences of substance abuse and addiction.