Substance-abuse prevention funding: What’s the problem?

Substance-abuse prevention funding: What’s the problem?

Is substance-abuse prevention cheaper than treatment?

Yes. Each year substance abuse costs the United States more than $740 billion. That’s enough money to end world hunger — twice.

This staggering number includes not only treatment, but also substance-related crime, health issues, road safety, foster care and more.

Columbus is ranked No. 3 in U.S. cities with the most heroin use (3% of the population). In fact, the American Addiction Centers website estimates, based on research, 64% of Columbus’ population uses marijuana, 20% uses cocaine and 12% uses meth.

Prevention programs could save the country nearly $100 billion a year. How does prevention get funding?

Rarely do substance-abuse prevention coalitions receive funds allocated specifically for prevention. Ohio’s General Revenue Fund does not have a line item in its budget for substance-abuse prevention.

Unless a coalition receives a federal, state or local grant, the only money it can use to prevent substance abuse is whatever it earns through grassroots fundraising, which isn’t much.

It is possible for coalitions (with a lot of work) to apply for and receive grants. See Ohio’s 2020 breakdown of grant awards resulting in the grant funds listed below:

—Ohio mental-health funds: $7.6 million.

—Ohio substance-abuse prevention funds: $2.1 million.

—Ohio substance-abuse treatment funds: $2 million.

Over multiple decades, various coalitions in Wayne County have received grant funding from federal, state and local dollars. This money helps decrease the youth using substances. Most years our rates are lower than the state average. Grant-funded communities have seen a noticeable decrease in youth substance use.

Kristie Skaggs is a coalition prevention specialist with OneEighty and a member of CIRCLE Coalition.

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