Reduce Crime AND Save Money: Treat Addiction Instead of Punishing People

**Reduce Crime AND Save Money: Treat Addiction Instead of Punishing People**



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Substance abuse and addiction are terrible for addicts health, and they’re really tough on family and friends. Addiction also drives up the violent crime rate, and the rate of property crime. This week on Healthcare Triage, Aaron Carroll is looking at research on how diverting addicts to treatment programs has a positive effect on crime rates.
the burden of substance abuse disorders can fall heavily on the families and friends of those who battle addictions but society also pays a great deal to increase crime treatment programs can reduce those costs that's the topic of this week's healthcare triage special thanks to Austin frac whose upshot column this episode was adapted for at least two decades we've known that substance abuse and crime go hand in hand more than half of violent offenders and one-third of property offenders say they committed crimes while under the influence of alcohol or drugs researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated the prescription opioid abuse dependent and overdoses cost the public sector twenty three billion dollars a year with a third of data tribute able to crime an additional 55 billion per year reflects private sector costs attributable to productivity losses and healthcare expenses about 80,000 Americans are incarcerated for opioid related crimes alone the total annual economic burden of all substance use disorders not just those involving opioids is in the hundreds of billions of dollars in an editorial accompanying the CDC researchers study harold pollack co-director of the university of chicago crime lab and a friend wrote that opioid associated crime like all crime extracts an even larger toll when you consider its impact on families and communities we're quoting him the most important reason to support treatment is to improve the well-being and social function of people with addiction disorders but there are other social benefits when the criminally active get help for this the economic value of crime reduction largely or totally offsets the cost of treatment relative to the cost and crime alone treatment for substance use disorders is a good deal even though a typical burglary may result in a few thousand dollars of tangible losses researchers have estimated the people are willing to pay 10 times that amount to avoid that loss and a hundred times more to avoid armed robbery this reflects the fact that crime exacts a large psychological toll the threat or climate of it is far more costly than the crimes themselves the most cost effective treatment for opioid use disorders we've covered in previous episodes includes counseling along with the craving relieving prescription drug like methadone sometimes combined with other medications according to an economic analysis by the New England comparative effectiveness public Advisory Council on which I'm actually a member in the Midwest this kind of treatment actually saves society money for instance New England states could save 1.3 billion dollars by expanding treatment of opioid dependent persons by 25 percent though the war on drugs has not had a tangible impact on crime treatment for substance use disorders has a study by Emory University scholars found that a 10 percent increase in the treatment rate reduces the robbery and larceny theft rates by about 3% and the aggravated assault rate by 4 to 9 percent for $1 spent on treatment up to 3 are saved in crime reduction an earlier study found that interventions to address substance use disorders save more and reduced crime than they save in reduced healthcare spending several systematic reviews and meta-analyses of therapies for opioid addiction found that methadone therapy reduced criminal activities related to heroin use one analysis of more than 8,000 heroin users found that their offending rates were lower while on methadone therapy than when not on it for every 100 patients on methadone per year there were 12 year robberies 57 fewer breaking enters and 56 fewer auto thefts another systematic review found the provision of heroin by doctors to patients addicted to it permitted in Canada and some other countries reduces crime finding such as these justified drug courts which divert drug offenders from the traditional criminal justice system into treatment but what about helping those with substance use disorders obtain treatment before they commit crimes and land in court given the crime deterring value of treatment among its other benefits you'd think we'd make it easy for patients to get we don't the need for treatment far exceeds that supply many treatment programs have waiting lists and the vast majority of those with substance use or dependency problems go untreated stigma plays a role which is why addiction treatment works best when it's integrated with and supported alongside ordinary medical care a pervasive not in my backyard attitude challenges the establishment of more programs a recent study by economist from Texas A&M and Montana state universities suggests this is short-sighted those researchers found that the opening of an additional treatment facility in a county is associated with lower drug-related mortality in that County as well as lower crime the effect of crime reduction alone would save an estimated 4.2 million dollars per facility per year or almost four times its cost quoting Herold again addiction treatment may be the one area of health policy right now in which Democrats and Republicans want to work together to meet an important public health challenge the economic and crime reduction benefit of these services certainly provide good reason for this healthcare triage is supported in part by viewers like you through patreon Tom a service that allows you to support the show through a monthly donation your support makes this show bigger and better we'd especially like to thank a Research Associates Joe severance and Jonathan Dunn and of course our surgeon Admiral Sam thanks Joe Jonathan and Sam more information can be found at patreon.com slash healthcare triage

44 thoughts on “**Reduce Crime AND Save Money: Treat Addiction Instead of Punishing People**

  1. atentat07

    I agree with this video, only complete legalization of ALL drugs will solve all drug problems and all crime, anything less is a waste of time.

    Reply
  2. GrumpyThumper

    OF COURSE TREATMENT ADDICTION IS FAR MORE EFFECTIVE THAN INCARCERATION! Any rational, sensible person could come to this conclusion. The only reason we don't do it is because the prison industrial complex is so damn lucrative and we've spend the last 50 years demonizing illegal drug consumers to the point that things like "mandatory minimum sentences" or "Three strike rules" are met with praise instead of outrage and rejection. There is a deep rooted wickedness in this country that values wealth over freedom.

    Reply
  3. Ryan Jackson

    "More than half of violent offenders and a third of property offenders say the have committed crimes while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
    And I don't think it's just that being under the influence that causes a person to commit crimes, it's also the fact that drugs are so addictive and expensive that people resort to crime to get the money for their fix.

    A Suboxone clinic opened up a few years ago not too far from the drug abuse clinic I worked at, and crime dropped in that town by something like 70%. Now that little town which was well known for being a skeezy place to live, is starting to shed its reputation.

    Reply
  4. zoji rushi

    Yeah, let's show that we care about these people and not simply punishing them. I think empathy goes a long way…

    Reply
  5. Maggie Doughty

    This just shows why the war on drugs is so futile and idiotic. All it does is artificially inflate the price of opioids and narcotics. I read recently that a hardcore crack addict needs hundreds of dollars a day to support his addiction. Where is getting that money? Most likely through illegal means, resulting in exorbitant amounts of lost economic value and only serving to line the pockets of drug lords. If addicts could be given the substances in a safe, legal setting with health workers on hand that would solve so many problems! Harm reduction is the first step.

    Reply
  6. Laura P

    Yes yes yes yes yes!! The only people who benefit from NOT prioritizing accessible treatment is the private prison industry!!!

    Reply
  7. Distant Travels

    What about taking the approach the Philippines is doing right now? Execute or long term prison for dealers, and either treat users, and if they won't accept treatment then also prison. Crackdown on drugs for real, not this fake softcore war on drugs nonsense. I'd like to stop so many people from doing drugs, Rather than just treating the masses after they've already used and become addicted to drugs. The solution should be to eliminate drug use, not just focus on how to best treat them once they're already using. That would save way more money and would prevent millions of people in future years from ever having their families torn apart or killed from drug use. I know with this channel they like to focus on fuel good solutions, but those solutions often are not the best, it's just putting a Band-Aid on the real problem.

    Reply
  8. Largo Di Milano

    Isn't using opportunity costs misleading? I mean if minimizing loss is considered a valid strategy we should just lock first offenders in solitary confinement…crime and poverty solved.

    The BBC did a documentary on "liberal, humane" drug policies. It's not a pretty picture. Yes, it's better on the junkies, but it also reduces the risk of the segment and with new designer drugs that can be made in labs, this means your friendly neighborhood pot dealer is selling fentanyl now.

    Reply
  9. Lando Cartel

    The prison industrial is America's main source of mental health care. Also, look what they're doing in Vancouver (and many others), giving addicts a safe place to shoot up, then actually supplying medical grade heroin to the junkies. Clean needles don't spread disease. Standardized purity and dosage prevents overdose. Crime rates go down.

    Reply
  10. jnzkngs

    I am convinced that the "For Profit Prison Industry" has infiltrated every aspect of our society with moles that are actively encouraging everyone to break the law and promote lawlessness to maintain their boss's profits. Everyone who defends illegal recreational drug use is one of the moles.

    Reply
  11. SlimThrull

    Or…. We could simply legalize drugs. Make them cheap enough so that its not worthwhile for criminals to sell them. All that money we save on crime prevention could be pushed towards programs to help people who want to get clean.

    This war on drugs has gotten us know where. All its done is increase our incarceration rate to the point where we're now number one in the world for people behind bars per capita.

    Reply
  12. Wes Holton

    Completely agree. Instead of continuing a vicious cycle of drug use and crime related to it, treating the root cause of the crimes betters the individiual and their community

    Reply
  13. sambowman91

    We'll start providing programs like these soon; the drug problem is finally a "crisis" now that white people are addicted to opioids.

    Reply
  14. Garrett Kajmowicz

    Do you have any comparisons on the costs associated with summarily executing those who commit drug-related crime?

    Reply
  15. Dee Victoria

    Aaron, I loved this episode. Would it be possible to do a follow-up in the future that goes over methods of drug treatment–what seems to be working for many and what does not? I've heard a lot of conflicting data regarding treatment methods and I would love to hear your take on the research.

    Reply
  16. HurricaneSparky

    The shit thing about addicts is that there's quite a lot that hate the way they live, but can't get clean on their own. One of my friends was an ex-drug addict (hardcore, like pills and meth) and an alcoholic. AA turned his life around and kept him clean while he was actively attending it.

    Reply
  17. George Cataloni

    This is a great way to deal with users, but what about sales? I think all drugs should be legal, but conservatives tend to think sales are the big driving force of addictions that needs to stop. Because of this, I think the two should be treated differently, and I hope the studies did too.

    Reply
  18. GussTheRabbit

    Health Care Triage. Got a personal story about this. If you would ever like to hear and or use it feel free to reach out.

    Reply
  19. Jake

    Too bad the GOP's solution is to remove all the funding for health services and bring back mandatory minimums.

    Reply
  20. Tara FitzGerald

    Safe Injection Sites are legally allowed in Canada, but they're few and far between, especially out of BC. There's way too much NIMBY going on, not to mention a massive backlash from the conservative side of the political spectrum. It's not supported by the facts, but they're still fighting against it really hard, and successfully blocking many such sites from opening in the first place. 🙁

    I would like to see us go as far as Portugal in our drug addiction treatment programs, but I think we're a long way off.

    Reply
  21. FooBarr1

    Electrolytes are the answer. Trump will have everyone drinking Brawndo and Make Amerika Great Again. w00t

    Reply
  22. Joe C

    That's all great, interesting research and everything, but I have just two words for you… Jeff. Sessions.

    Reply
  23. Anthony

    Drugs aren't illegal because they cause health problems, they are illegal so we can arrest poor people and people of color. The reason marijuana is illegal is "it makes lesser races violent". Drugs are illegal so we can send people the government doesn't want to see, out of their sight. There will never be treatment programs as long as there are republicans or democrats.

    Reply
  24. Blabla130

    X dollar spent on treatment result in Y dollars saved" the saved dollar aren't really saved – they're part of the economy as the security industry. "Saving" here means losing jobs.

    Reply
  25. B C

    your government will never support science based studies like this. people get emotional when talking about drug abuse and think lock them up. when in reality everyone would br better off with this strategy. your populace, and mine as well, is largely about emotional reactions versus rational thought

    Reply
  26. Bear River

    I am personally ashamed that this subject material isn't well known or agreed upon in my country.

    Reply
  27. ColoringKaria

    Crack = Addiction is a moral failing, jail them and throw away the key.

    Opioid = Addiction is an illness that requires compassion and treatment not jail.

    Me: now isnt that interesting… what could possibly account for the different pov on addiction… its almost as if its not addiction but who it effects that accounts for this difference?

    Reply
  28. Alec

    I mean call me a bleeding heart hippy commie, but maybe we should also build treatment facilities because no one deserves to starve to death in the street addicted to crack? Not just because it saves people/the government money.

    Reply
  29. louis43233

    Prohibition isn't about reducing crime or abuse. It is an excuse to selectively crack down on the dangerous classes(poor young males/minorities). We've known the crime part since the 1950's. The business/economic impact is the threat of those people trying to assert their right to not be exploited by their employers. The state doesn't craft drug policy based on the crime of those addicts stealing a few TV's mostly from other poor people and occasionally the insured homes of the bougouise.

    Reply
  30. ownlife

    Tell that to Trump, Jeff Session and trump supporters who are OK with their dumb policy of continuing the war on drugs.

    Reply
  31. esther m

    One of the driving forces of stigma around substance abuse disorders is the false dichotomy of choice vs. pathology. Original or incidental usage of a substance is a choice. The inability to cope with abuse and trauma, poverty, excessive stress, or another underlying mental or physical illness is not.

    Someone who eventually develops anorexia may choose to begin not eating for a day or two in the early stages of their illness, but I've never heard someone argue that that choice makes them unworthy of treatment.

    Ultimately, one's personal sensibilities about "personal responsibility" or the "morality" of drug use are completely irrelevant. The societal and economic benefits of treatment vs. punishment outweigh your pithy objections to showing people compassion in spite of their mistakes.

    Reply
  32. YokubouTenshi

    You know what's even better than treating addicts? Not letting big pharma create addicts in the first place.

    Reply
  33. Paul Roth

    Ah, I want to reference this video when I'm talking about addiction related crimes! This seems like a scripted video – could you please caption it? Thank you in advance!

    Reply
  34. Dylan Drees

    I think that many of the substance abuse crime statistics are either skewed or hard to analyze, due to the nature of prohibition.

    Reply
  35. ErnestoPresso

    Jailing people makes money though (not agreeing with it, but that's why they are treated this way)

    Reply

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