262217 Economic costs of alcohol and drug abuse in Washington State, 2005

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 2:30 PM - 2:50 PM

Thomas Wickizer, PhD , Division of Health Services Management and Policy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Almost nothing is known about the economic costs of substance abuse (SA) at a state level. To allocate resources effectively for prevention and treatment, states must have information about the costs of SA. I conducted a study to estimate the economic costs of SA for Washington State for 2005 using conventional cost-of-illness techniques. Costs were estimated for the following areas: morbidity, mortality, health care, SA treatment, crime, and other costs. The study followed the standard human capital approach and used a discount rate of 3%. Costs were estimated based on Washington State data bases and vital statistics. Total economic costs of SA in Washington State in 2005 were estimated at $5.2 billion, or $832 per capita. Per capita costs increased by 47% from 1996 to 2005. Cost associated with mortality were highest ($2.03 billion), followed by crime ($1.1 billion), and morbidity ($1.03 billion). 56% of the total costs were attributed to alcohol. There were 3,224 deaths in Washington in 2005 related to SA abuse. These deaths accounted for 89,000 years of potential life lost. 7,061 person years were served in state prisons or local jails as a result of drug-related criminal activity; 2,233 years were served for crime related to alcohol. There were approximately 39,000 hospital discharges classified as drug- or alcohol-related. The economic costs of SA dwarf what is directed at SA prevention and treatment. Continued attention needs to be paid to finding more effective ways to reduce the economic costs and human loss arising from substance abuse.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe cost-of-illness methodology for estimating the costs of substance abuse. 2) Discuss the nature and magnitude of economic costs resulting from substance abuse.

Keywords: Cost Issues, Drug Abuse

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research and analysis in the field of substance abuse for over 20 years and have published extensively on my research. My research and evaluation have led to policy changes in the Washington State.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.