Online Drug Classes Educate On High Cost of Drug Abuse

by Mike Miller December 24, 2011

How much does drug abuse cost us every day? I am sure the total amount would be staggering. Let’s take a look at a slice of the cost to the American public, OK?

In 2005, a task force estimated that alcohol and drug abuse cost the state of Oklahoma about $3.4 billion.

The death toll and spending are rising. Today, a conservative cost estimate is about $4.3 billion or about $1,150 per Oklahoman.

More than 500 Oklahomans died of drug overdoses in 2005. Last year, 715 died, mostly from pharmaceutical drugs rather than street drugs.

Mental health services at state prisons cost more than $8 million a year, according to Robert Powitzky, chief mental health officer with the Corrections Department.

Psychotropic drug costs, alone, were $763,000 in fiscal year 2011. The mental health department received $155 million in state appropriations in 2005 and $183 million for FY 2012.

The increase is directly attributable to funded spending increases related to drug court and core community health services, mandated employee cost increases and an increase in provider reimbursement rates, per Terri White, commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The department wants an additional $134 million for FY 2013, which includes $92.6 million for “Smart on Crime,” a program that will help educate police on treatment options to keep former offenders with abuse or mental health issues from re-offending.

Incarcerating offenders costs more than treating their mental issues outside the prison system — about $20,000 per year per person vs. $5,000 to $7,000.

These numbers are staggering. It makes me wonder how a little more education, perhaps a good online drug class, would change things.

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