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Drug Rehab Instead of Prison Could Save Billions, Says Report

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prisonThe debate about the efficacy of drug courts has been waged for the past decade, and now one more study has landed solidly in the “pro” column. Published in the journal Crime & Delinquency, the new research has found that sending offenders with a history of drug and alcohol abuse to an addiction treatment program rather than institutionalizing them in jail or prison is not only the humanitarian choice but it will cut crime rates and save billions of dollars. Billions. In a time when the federal government has a debt in the trillions, it seems unethical to ignore the benefits and cost savings of helping people get the medical care they need rather than incarceration that will only worsen everyone’s problems.

Where Do the Savings Come From?

How is it possible that spending money on treatment will save money? Like any investment, the return on savings across patients will increase over the years.

  • Initial drug treatment is less expensive than incarceration.
  • Costs related to incarceration are cut due to fewer re-arrests.
  • Costs of healthcare for uninsured patients living with addiction are cut.
  • Costs of law enforcement and court costs are cut when crime rates drop and fewer arrests occur.

The study reported that if only 10 percent of drug-addicted offenders received drug rehabilitation instead of jail time, the criminal justice system would save $4.8 billion compared to current costs. If 40 percent of addicted offenders received treatment instead of jail, those savings would rise to $12.9 billion.

What About Personal Savings?

If the financial savings of treatment are that large in the big picture, will enrolling an addicted family member in drug rehab save money too? The answer is “yes.” No matter how expensive treatment is, it’s nothing compared to the costs that add up over years of drug addiction, including:

  • Medical care and health costs for overdose, accidental injury under the influence, and chronic illness caused by drug use
  • Bail, court costs, lawyers fees, and other legal fees caused by drug-related arrest
  • Lost productivity of the addicted person and an inability to work and bring in money
  • Cost of supporting someone who is unable to support themselves
  • Cost of supporting any children born to the addicted person

According to Newswise, it is estimated that about half of all people who are incarcerated are there at least in part due to an active drug or alcohol problem but only about 10 percent of them receive the drug rehabilitation they need to heal while they are behind bars. When they are released, they often immediately return to active drug abuse and within days, weeks, or months find themselves again in front of a judge and returning to jail for the same or similar crimes.

Are you ready to help your loved one get into a drug rehab program that can help? Call now to speak to an admissions coordinator who can help you find the right treatment center for your loved one.

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