Substance abuse and addiction treatment centers have struggled to attain the resources and recognition necessary to provide appropriate medical treatment for addiction, one of the nation’s most pressing medical problems. This is from a CASA Columbia report regarding medical addiction treatment:
Inadequate Allocation of Financial
Resources: Financial investments in addressing addiction and risky substance use are aimed disproportionately at coping with their costly health and social consequences rather than at the effective implementation of available prevention, intervention and treatment approaches. In 2010, only 1.0 percent ($28.0 billion) of total health care costs went to treating the disease of addiction.17 Spending on addiction treatment disproportionately falls to the public sector. In contrast to the role of private insurance in general health care spending–where it covers 54.4 percent of costs–private insurers cover only 20.8 percent of the costs of addiction treatment, and the private share has been decreasing.
Compared to other medical conditions, addiction receives is woefully undertreated. 77.2% of people with hypertension receive medical treatment, 73.2% with diabetes receive medical treatment, 71.2% with major depression receive medical treatment, yet, only 10.9% receive treatment for addiction. Of those who do receive treatment, 44.3% are referred through the criminal justice system, while only 5.7% are referred by healthcare providers. According to CASA Columbia, “nearly one-third (32.3 percent) of all hospital inpatient costs are attributable to substance use and addiction.”
There’s a huge treatment gap, and it’s costing the nation billions of dollars. Addiction is the third leading cause of preventable early death. Inferior insurance coverage is major cause of the gap between the addiction problems and access to treatment. Again, from the CASA Columbia report:
Spending on addiction treatment totaled an estimated $28.0 billion in 2010. Whereas private payers (including private insurers and self-payers) are responsible for 55.6 percent ($1.4 trillion) of medical expenditures in the U.S., they are responsible for only 20.8 percent ($5.8 billion) of addiction treatment spending.
Access to treatment, though, is only part of the problem — there’s also a lack of clear standards in the treatment field. There’s a lack of involvement by medical professionals. Ideally, treatment would combine medical treatment and psychosocial treatment to establish stability. Post-treatment, long term recovery management would be established through comprehensive discharge planning. All of this requires a great effort, but the severity of addiction and the damage it causes in so many lives and to society calls for great efforts.