Scientists Address National Leaders on Healthcare Costs Associated with Substance Abuse

The treatment of the abuse of alcohol, drugs and tobacco continues to generate billions of dollars in healthcare costs. As a result, scientists are searching for ways to change the way the government approaches such treatments.

Science Daily recently posted a release on the efforts on Capitol Hill. On October 2, scientists affiliated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) presented evidence on the steps that can be taken to reduce $2 billion in the healthcare burden as a result of alcohol, drug and tobacco use.

These scientists also provided a roadmap for research that they feel should be conducted over the next five years to address future challenges in reducing substance abuse. This roadmap included covered treatment of drug and alcohol use disorders, preventing drug abuse, preventing alcohol abuse and policies that would help to create a smoke-free society.

"The Foundation is immensely proud of our decision to establish the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program," said David Colby, PhD, Vice President of Research and Evaluation at RWJF, in Science Daily.. "It’s gratifying to see such quality research from a cadre of top-notch researchers who are leading lights in their field."

"As important," continued Colby, "The foundation’s investment in substance abuse policy research has produced an extensive body of knowledge that has been front and center in the most important policy debates and decisions on tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs over the past 20 years. The research agenda for the future that we presented today will be the legacy of our investment in reducing the harm caused by substance abuse."

Dennis McCarty, PhD, of the Oregon Health and Science University, highlighted research which found that 23 million Americans – or 9 percent of the population – aged 12 or older meet the criteria for substance use, abuse or dependence. Only about 4 million people get the care they need.