10 Sobering Facts on the Business Costs of Addiction

By Laurel Sindewald

1. In 2012, 9.2% of Americans 12 or older were current users of illegal drugs and, of 21.5 million current illegal drug users 18 or older, 14.6 million or 67.9% were employed full-time or part-time. SourceSource

2. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that drug abuse and addiction from the use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs cost the U.S. over $524 billion each year. Those costs include health care, productivity loss, crime, incarceration and drug enforcement. Source

3. Over 70 percent of the estimated costs of alcohol abuse are due to lost productivity in the workplace. Source

4. Two out of three adults in the U.S. knows someone who has gone to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Source

5. Cigarette smoking costs over $65 billion annually in health care costs. In comparison, obesity results in costs of over $27 billion a year. Source

6. On average, treatment costs $1,583 per patient, with a corresponding $11,487 return in benefits to society; this is a return on investment of 7 to 1. Most of the benefits come from reduced crime and increased employment earnings. Source

7. Of the $294 billion estimated social costs for substance abuse in 1997, only $11.9 was spent on treatment. Source

8. The American Medical Association found that 25 cents of every dollar spent on health care is spent on the treatment of diseases or disabilities resulting from behaviors that could potentially be changed. Source

9. Replacing an employee costs between 25-200% of an employee’s annual compensation. Turnover involves potential losses of institutional knowledge and continuity of service, as well as effects on coworker productivity and morale. Source

10. Every $1 invested in treatment reduces the costs of drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft by $4 to $7. Source

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If you’d like to use this post as a handout, here’s a .pdf version.

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