KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — It seems counter intuitive to first educate about substance use disorder and strive to reduce the stigma associated with addiction, then list the facts and figures about the societal impact.
The hope is that, while this information can be mind blowing, it will ultimately lead to the conclusion an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The economic impact of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in America is estimated at $742 billion each year — $442 billion is attributed with alcohol and drugs. That includes lost workplace productivity, impact to the criminal justice system, health care costs and accidents associated with drugs and alcohol.
Most Americans are aware of the nation’s prison population growing past capacity. In many cases, treatment should start in the justice system.
• An estimated 80% of offenders abuse substances
• 50% of inmates are clinically addicted
• Approximately 60% of individuals arrested test positive for illegal drugs at arrest
• Alcohol is a factor in 40% of violent crimes
• Approximately 95% of inmates relapse
• Up to 80% of abusers commit a new crime after release
• Alcohol and drugs were involved in 65% of domestic violence cases
“Most people with substance abuse issues who are released from prison or jail relapse in the community,” states the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights website. “The period of incarceration provides an opportunity to connect an often hard-to-reach and under-served population to treatment while in a relatively stable setting. However, substance abuse and addiction treatment is not widely available for incarcerated individuals.”
Only 11% of incarcerated individuals in need of substance abuse treatment receive it in jail or prison, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
We can’t ignore the personal impacts to society and family. The community cannot afford to not address this issue.
A 1999 study by CASA found children of substance abusing parents were almost three times likelier to be abused and four times likelier to be neglected compared to children of parents who weren’t substance abusers.
There is a silver lining — research has demonstrated recovery is possible.
In a 2010 CASA study, it was determined if quality addiction treatment and aftercare was provided to every inmate in need, the investment in recovery programs would break even if more than 10% were successful in staying sober and employed.
With proper support and treatment programs, people often can and do recover from SUD. Treatment also saves money. Studies have shown each dollar spent on treatment saved between $5.60 to $7 in terms of reduced crime, welfare and medical costs.
The logical conclusion is we need to focus efforts on prevention and treatment in an attempt to curb the overall impact to families and society at large. This will provide economic benefits but, more importantly, will bring additional stability to the family unit.
The recent Jail Chemical Addiction Program through the county jail is the beginning of treatment for many of those currently incarcerated.
Treatment can’t begin and end there. The availability of support groups and mentors, or recovery coaches, is incredibly important to the continued long term sobriety of individuals — whether they are in the criminal justice system or not.
To learn about how to join the Substance Use Recovery and Treatment committee or walk alongside those in early recovery, call Kevin Haines at (574) 527-3224.
Part three of the article series will be published next week Wednesday, May 15, in The Mail-Journal and on InkFreeNews.com.