ARTICLE 5: How effective is drug addiction treatment and is it worth the cost? That is the question that many people ask. This article compares the relapse of drug addiction patients with those of other chronic diseases. Like the objective(s) of the treatment of many other diseases, the goal of addiction treatment is to restore health and return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. According to research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods of time, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.
For example, methadone treatment has been shown to increase participation in behavioral therapy and decrease both drug use and criminal behavior. However, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extend and nature of the patient’s problems, the appropriateness of treatment and related services used to address those problems, the quality of interaction between the patient and his/her providers, and the patient’s support network.
Relapse rates for addiction (40% - 60%) resemble those of other chronic diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes (30% – 50% relapse), Hypertension (50% – 70% relapse), and Asthma (50% – 70% relapse). Like these other chronic diseases, however, addiction can be managed successfully.
It is worth the cost? Absolutely! Substance abuse costs our nation over one half-trillion dollars each year, and treatment can help reduce those costs. Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. Treatment is also much less expensive that its alternatives, such as incarcerating addicted persons. For example, the average cost of a full year of methadone maintenance treatment is approximately $4000 per patient, whereas the cost of a full year of imprisonment costs approximately $24,000 per inmate.
According to conservative estimates, every $1.00 invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1! Major savings to the individual and to society as a whole also stem from fewer interpersonal conflicts, greater workplace productivity, and fewer d4rug-related accidents, including overdoses and deaths.
If you have questions about substance abuse and/or opioid addiction, please feel free to visit Southeast Georgia Treatment Center’s website at www.segtc.org or call the Center at 478-374-0390.