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Economics of Drug Treatment
Benefit-Cost in the California Treatment Outcome Project: Does Substance Abuse Treatment “Pay for Itself”?
Dr. Susan Ettner, et al. Health Services Research, UCLA. 2005.

Following over 3,000 patients receiving substance abuse treatment in California, Dr. Susan Ettner et al. calculated that while, on average, substance abuse treatment costs $1,583 per person, it is associated with a monetary benefit to society of $11,487.  The doctors studied methadone maintenance, outpatient and residential treatment facilities.  Over half of the societal benefits came from a reduction in crime and incarceration.  Dr. Ettner et al. calculated that over the 9 month study:

- Victimization costs dropped by $3,019 as a result of crime reduction. 
- The overall reduction in crime costs was $5,676 per treatment, and the overall reduction in incarceration costs per treatment was $1,788. 
- The average per capita increase in earnings was $3,352. 
- The overall ratio of benefits to costs was 7:1. 

The study states that the estimates are conservative, meaning overall monetary benefits could be even higher.  They conclude, therefore, that spending taxpayer dollars on substance abuse treatment is a wise investment.