Choosing Cost Effective Substance Abuse Prevention Programs

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Communities can better develop comprehensive prevention strategies based on their unique needs and characteristics and use cost-benefit ratios to help guide their decisions with the help of a new publication released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Frances Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, made the announcement today at the 5th Annual Prevention Leadership Academy held in Chicago, Illinois.

Substance Abuse Prevention Dollars and Cents: A Cost Benefits Analysis is designed to help policymakers and other stakeholders use the results of cost-benefit analysis as an information tool for decision making and for selecting the substance abuse prevention programs that best apply available resources toward addressing their needs.

Among the key factors analyzed in the publication are:

· Extent of substance abuse among youth


· Costs of substance abuse to the nation and to states

· Cost savings that could be gained if effective prevention policies, programs, and services were implemented nationwide

· Programs and policies that are most cost beneficial

In addition, the report summarizes existing estimates of the costs of substance abuse and its damaging consequences and how these costs may be avoided by early prevention programs. For example, on the average, the return on investment in school-based prevention services ranged between $7.70 and $36 per dollar invested, with an average savings estimate of $18.

The report draws on the data and methods of recent substance abuse costs and cost savings studies and relies heavily on two systematic evaluations of cost- savings estimates, adds new analyses, and includes many programs listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). These cost-savings analyses show that savings from substance abuse prevention generally exceed the costs of prevention programs.