$486 Billion Dollars for Rehab?

money

 In a storywritten by Erik Eckholm in the New York Times, government spending related to smoking and abuse of alcohol and other drugs hit  $486 billion, yes, with a B, billion. Most of the money seems to be spent on medical costs associated with overdoses, lung cancer, cirrhosis as well as law enforcement and our old friend, incarceration. A bit over 2% (awww, isn’t that a cute little percentage?) was spent on prevention, treatment, and addiction research. In other words 98% spent on futility, 2% spent on what works better.

            This insanity speaks for itself. Joe Califano, chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance abuse at Columbia University says “this is such a stunning misallocation of funds”. How is this rationalized? How could this be?  What’s known about addiction is very little, but what is known is that it costs huge amounts of money not to mention the emotional toll it takes on families.  What does this mean exactly? I am not sure since I have a limited understanding of  economics. I do however know that having worked in grimy clinics (MASH units in the War on Drugs) the resources are extremely limited, staff overworked and irritable, and kicking and swearing at the outdated copy machine was common place. Does the DEA have an old copier that never works? I suspect not.

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