Addiction is a prevalent yet treatable chronic medical condition. Often times, addiction is accompanied by other chronic diseases. If left untreated, the addicted person’s medical care becomes more costly due to what is called secondary health conditions. However, when treated, addiction leads to better health care outcomes. Addiction treatment will lead to substantial savings to the health system; there are clear signs of the potential for savings.
Cost Benefits of Addiction Treatment: Individual
- One out of every 14 hospital stays – 2.3 million stays – was related to substance disorders in 2004
- Total medical costs were reduced 26% among one group of patients that received addiction treatment
- A group of at-risk alcohol users who received brief counseling recorded 20% fewer emergency department visits and 37% fewer days of hospitalization
- Addiction is pervasive in the United States. An estimated 23 million Americans suffer from alcohol and drug addiction, according to the most recent government survey. Yet only one in 10 of these persons – 2.4 million – get treatment.
What is clear about addiction is that it is an equal opportunity disease meaning that it affects people across socioeconomic, age, gender, and cultural lines. Also, only a small percentage of people with alcohol and drug addiction will actually get treatment, unlike those suffering from other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or asthma.
Cost Benefits of Addiction Treatment: Community
When looking at the big picture of whether it is beneficial to pay for treatment of addiction, it is important to keep in mind that addiction affects families and communities – not just the individual. All too often addiction is personified by a person who is untreated and who is not receiving regular health care. When this happens, the result is devastating for the health of the individual as well as costly for our national health care system. When addictions go untreated, people’s medical care becomes fragmented, inefficient and episodic. It is not just that addiction, alone, risks health consequences and poor health outcomes. It is also that unrelated and co-existing health issues go unaddressed and untreated.
Addiction and Secondary Diseases: Dual Diagnosis
Addiction contributes directly to lots of medical conditions. Heavy drinking, for example, contributes to illness in each of the top three causes of death: heart disease, cancer and stroke. Addiction frequently worsens or complicates other diseases and illnesses. Persons with asthma who use cocaine often find that the cocaine worsens their asthma. Addiction can also lead to misdiagnoses especially of psychological disorders, unexpected side effects from prescribed medications and poor medical outcomes. Health care self-management is poor among people with addiction. Finally, many people with untreated addiction fail to fill their prescriptions or get blood tests, skip a follow-up doctor’s appointment or do not follow prescribed care. This, of course leads to ongoing and worsening health problems.
Addiction Takes Its Toll on The Addict
Besides neglecting to keep and follow up with medical appointments and maintain regular health care habits, people who struggle with addiction simply do not care for themselves. Personal hygiene suffers when someone is in the throes of addiction. Add to that the neglect to eat healthy, nutritional meals, or to eat at all, and their overall health declines dramatically and rapidly.
If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse or drug addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135