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Substance Abuse Problems a Major Part of Federal Entitlement Budget


March 1995

A new report by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University finds that $77.6 billion of the $834.7 billion spent on federal entitlement programs is due to abuse of illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco (Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, "Substance Abuse and Federal Entitlement Programs," Feb. 1995).

The report only analyzes federal funding for Medicare; Medicaid; Veterans; federal employee and other health programs; Social Security and other retirement programs; Social Security Disability Insurance; Aid to Families with Dependent Children; Food Stamps; Supplementary Security Income; and Unemployment Compensation. The report does not address the federal costs incurred because of the effects of drug abuse on schools, law enforcement, and prisons.

Among the study's findings:

CASA President Joseph A. Califano wrote in a foreward to the report that policymakers must address the fiscal problems caused by drug abuse. "If the Congress and the President are serious about reducing the costs of entitlement programs, they must attend to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and the protection of children on welfare from parents who abuse them by their own drug and alcohol abuse. Merely removing individuals who smoke, or abuse alcohol or drugs, from social security disability, veterans disability, and welfare rolls will not lower costs."

[To obtain a copy of this report, contact CASA at 152 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019, 212-841-5200. The cost is $5.]