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Addiction Help Q & A: Shouldn't Oklahoma Spend More Money on Treatment?

Oklahoma has it bad. Drug and alcohol addiction in Oklahoma contributes to 85 percent of homicides, 80 percent of prison incarcerations and 75 percent of divorce, and costs the state about $5.8 billion a year – which is enough to get about 10% of the entire population of Oklahoma through a long-term residential drug rehab program that will give them the addiction help they need.

Spending that money on addiction help would seem to be the best approach. You’d get 300,000 people off alcohol or drugs – that’s 10% of the entire state population. Instead, they spend about $1.4 billion dollars in direct costs – defined as trying to prevent addiction, locking up people who commit crimes because of addiction, and treating addicts. How much is spent getting addicts addiction help wasn’t specified but it’s obviously not anywhere enough.

The other $4.4 billion is “indirect” costs such as “financial losses from premature deaths, imprisonment and school dropouts.”

If the money was spent getting addiction help serivces for those who need it, very few of those other expenses would be necessary. And you pretty much would have handled at least those with serious addiction problems with one year’s budget. Then money can go into prevention so Oklahoma doesn’t get into that much trouble again.

Is spending money on effective addiction help services just too simple or something? What am I missing?

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