Costs of Addiction

Economic and Health Care Costs

  • Economic costs of addiction are estimated to be $428 billion a year in the US.
  • The economic burden of addiction in the United States is twice that of any other disease affecting the brain, including Alzheimer’s.
  • Addiction is a serious driver of health care costs, estimated at $215 billion annually.
  • Individuals with addiction have higher rates of other chronic physical illness, mental health problems and infectious disease.
  • Almost half of all emergency room visits for trauma and/or injury are alcohol related.
  • Individuals with addiction problems use four times as many hospital days as non-drinkers.
  • 35% of emergency room patients with an occupational injury are problem drinkers.
  • Heavy drinking contributes to illness in each of the top three causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke.
  • One in 14 hospital stays involves addiction.
  • 14% of patients admitted to hospitals have addiction problems.

Employer Costs

  • Untreated addiction in the workplace costs employers $1,700 per employee per year.
  • Health care costs for employees who have addiction problems are twice those for other employees.
  • An estimated 500 million workdays are lost annually due to addiction problems.
  • Drug and alcohol addiction results in $263 billion in lost productivity each year.
  • Workers with alcohol problems were nearly three times more likely than others to have injury-related absences.
  • Employees with addiction problems function at about two-thirds of their capability and are three times more likely to be late for work.
  • People who an alcohol problem use twice as much sick leave as other employees and are five times more likely to file workers compensation claims.
  • Up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol problems.
  • One in four workers reports drinking during the workday at least once in the past year.
  • Family members of those suffering from addiction cost an average of $433-490 more per year than their peers.
  • Greater turnover – individuals with addiction problems are more likely to report having worked for three or more employers in the previous year.
  • 67% of HR professionals believe that addiction is one of the most serious issues they face in their company.
  • Only one in five HR professionals say their company openly and proactively deals with employee addiction issues.
  • The most significant problems that companies experienced due to addiction are absenteeism (62%); reduced productivity (49%); missed deadlines (31%); and increased health care costs (29%).

Human Costs

  • 350 people die every day from addiction.
  • Suicide rates for people with an alcohol addiction are 30 times greater than for the general population.
  • One in five suicide victims had alcohol addiction.
  • Drinking accounts for as much as one third of all accidental deaths.
  • Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 79,000 deaths in the US each year.
  • About 100 Americans die each day from drug overdose.
  • Overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, more than traffic fatalities.
  • Children whose parents suffer from addiction are more likely to be exposed to violence, family separations and foster care.
  • Children whose parents suffer from addiction are at higher risk of increased mortality, attempted suicide, teenage pregnancy and unemployment as adults.
  • Children of parents with addiction are at high risk for developing problems with alcohol and other drugs, having school problems and high levels of anxiety and depression.
  • Domestic violence batterers are three times more likely than others to have addiction problems.
  • Separated or divorced people are three times as likely to say that their spouse had addiction-related problems than those still married.

Social Costs

  • Up to two-thirds of maltreated children in the foster system involve addiction-related problems.
  • Children whose parents have alcohol addiction problems are nearly three times as likely to be abused and more than four times as likely to be neglected.
  • 67% of parents in the child welfare system require addiction treatment.
  • Alcohol is a key factor in about two-thirds of all manslaughters and assaults, about half of all murders and attempted murders and robberies and 44% of burglaries.
  • About 80% of offenders have substance related problems and half of all jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted.
  • As many as two-thirds of detained juveniles suffer from addiction.
  • The annual estimated cost of crime, property destruction and welfare related to addiction is almost $70 billion each year.

Public Sector Costs

  • State governments spend about $2.9 billion on average each year for addiction-related problems.
  • Number one cost driver in the social service sector.
  • Addiction affects more than 1 in 8 Medicaid recipients.
  • About 20% of all Medicaid hospital costs and nearly $1 of every $4 of Medicare spends on inpatient care is linked to addiction.
  • $61 billion in criminal justice costs to the US each year.

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