Analysis Shows Substance Abuse Treatment Programs are Cost Effective, Reducing Crime, Increasing Employment

Cost analysis and operations assessment of community-based alcohol and drug treatment programs

Between August 2002 and November 2003, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Integrated Substance Abuse Programs examined the costs and savings associated with three types of substance abuse treatment: outpatient, residential and methadone maintenance.

Researchers determined whether savings from reductions in criminal activity, health care and welfare dependency exceeded the costs of providing treatment.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) (for more information see the Program Results Report).

Key Findings:

  • Overall, each dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saved more than $7, primarily from reduced costs of crime and increased employment earnings.
  • Outpatient and residential treatment both demonstrated significant net savings: $11 for each dollar invested in outpatient treatment and $6 for each residential dollar invested. Methadone maintenance did not save a statistically significant amount.
  • There was a significant reduction in emergency department costs after treatment.