Problem strains state budget
The total cost of substance abuse and addiction to the Commonwealth was more than $4.5 billion, 21.8 percent of the state budget, in 2005, the most recent year for which aggregate data are available.
■ Two percent, or just over $66 million, was spent on prevention, treatment, and research; 98 percent was spent on public programs, including justice, education, mental health services, and public safety.
■ More than 5 percent of the budget, almost $1.1 billion, was spent by the justice system on substance abuse and addiction, shown by the number of addicts in the corrections system, crimes related to illicit opiate abuse, and the total impact on the judiciary system.
■ More than 4 percent of the budget, or $810 million, was spent on adult inmate substance abuse, with an estimated 150,000 offenders in the Commonwealth having an addiction or placed in correctional supervision because of past substance abuse.
■ The state paid almost $200 million in emergency room costs related to overdoses in 2005.
■ The judiciary spent $168 million on substance abuse and addiction in 2005, as shown by substance abuse and addiction cases in criminal, drug, family, and juvenile courts.
■ The Commonwealth spent an estimated $21.37 million on state workforce costs relating to substance abuse and addiction in 2005.
In 2007, the total cost of state-funded detoxification programs was more than $22 million.
■ There were 18,516 individuals admitted to acute treatment programs, known commonly as detox, which provide 24-hour medical care to monitor withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs. About 64 percent were admitted once; however, 202 people entered a treatment program more than 10 times in 2007. Each detox, funded by the Bureau of Substance AbuseServices and MassHealth, costs the state around $1,000.
■ Of the 105,552 people admitted in 2007 to one of more than 500 substance abuse programs funded by the Department of Public Health, including acute treatment programs, 41,850 - nearly 40 percent - reported heroin use in the year prior to admission. Of those, 85 percent also reported heroin as their primary drug and a majority reported heroin as their reason for seeking treatment.
■ MassHealth spent a total of $325 million on its more than 18,000 members receiving methadone or buprenorphine, drug therapies for opiate abuse, in fiscal 2007. Out of the nearly 14,000 who received methadone, more than 40 percent were treated continuously for a year - at a cost of more than $91 million. The average cost per person for methadone was nearly $20,000; buprenorphine, nearly $12,000.
In Boston, from 1999 to 2007, the mortality rate related to substance abuse increased 77.3 percent.
In 2008, Boston EMS personnel spent more than 140 hours responding to heroin-related incidents, with 117 basic life support responses and 86 advanced life support responses. Basic responses cost $935 each, advanced responses $1,870, putting the total cost to the city that year on heroin-related emergency calls at more than $270,000.
Source: 2009 report by the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission.