Introduction to Cost Analysis of U.S. Addictions

The following is part one of a publication from Dr. Brian Jackson.
Part 1 – Introduction to Cost Analysis of U.S. Addictions
Part 2 – Financial Cost of Addictive Disorders
Part 3 – Results from Addiction and Cost Statistics
Part 4 – Treatments for Addiction | Effectiveness and Cost Analysis

“Addiction is a disease in and of itself, characterized by compulsion, loss of control, and continued use in spite of adverse consequences” (Coombs, 2004, p.5). In addiction, the important phase is the loss of control, in which, though the addicted person can control the use for a short period, but compulsion to use more returns more strongly leading to out-of-control use. Addiction is progressive, and over a period of time, addiction becomes chronic and the person falls to relapse. Most people believe that simply refraining from the use of alcohol or drugs causing addiction can stop addiction, but it is not as easily done as it sounds. Long-term abstinence from the factors that create the dependency requires repeated treatments, which not only cost a great deal but also needs to be sustained for a long period of time. These treatments include cognitive therapies and drug therapies which turn out to be an expensive affair. In most cases, addiction is incurable. The patient can move to a state of mental depression, or can result in death.

Addiction is one of the most serious and expensive public health problems in the United States. By the young age of twelve, as much as 52% of US adolescents have consumed alcohol and more than 40% have smoked tobacco, or marijuana and over four million people use pain relievers, stimulants and sedatives for non-medical uses in one month. Nearly five million Americans are found to suffer from eating disorders and more grave situations like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. An unofficial study found that more than 15 million Americans have another major addiction, gambling. The net economic cost of substance abuse is estimated to exceed four hundred billion dollars. Health care costs for substance abuse and treatment costs for addictive disorders alone are estimated to exceed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Continue on to Part 2 – Financial Cost of Addictive Disorders

Coombs, R H. (2004). Handbook of addictive disorders: A practical guide to diagnosis and treatment: What is addiction?. John Wiley and Sons.

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