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Addiction Treatment Will Help Make Health Reform Affordable, New Analysis Shows

White Paper Details "Unforeseen Benefits" of Addiction Treatment

WASHINGTON, July 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Treating Americans who are addicted to alcohol and drugs will lead to substantial health care savings totaling billions of dollars over a decade, according to an analysis released today by the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) initiative.

The white paper, "Unforeseen Benefits: Addiction Treatment Reduces Health Care Costs," cites studies showing that addiction treatment will contribute to containing health care costs by reducing emergency room visits, hospital stays and overall health care costs.

"Addiction treatment has an unforeseen benefit of making health reform more affordable," said Victor Capoccia, Ph.D., director of Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap Initiative. "When addictions go untreated, a person's medical care is fragmented, inefficient and ultimately, more costly. There is tremendous momentum now to reform the nation's health care system, and including addiction treatment is a win-win for the nation. Access to effective treatment will help Americans live longer and healthier lives, and it will save billions of dollars over a decade's time compared with the cost of not treating persons at all."

The "Unforeseen Benefits" white paper is available at CATG seeks to create awareness of - and increase resources to close - an alarming gap in the availability of drug and alcohol addiction treatment for Americans who need it. The white paper was released at a Washington, D.C. briefing, "Healing Mind and Body: Behavioral Health and Reform," hosted by the Alliance for Health Reform ( and co-sponsored by CATG and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The "Unforeseen Benefits" white paper notes that an estimated 23 million Americans suffer from alcohol and drug addiction, yet only one in ten get treatment. At the same time, one of every fourteen hospital stays - 2.3 million stays - was related to substance disorders in 2004, according to a federal study. A survey conducted earlier this year by CATG shows that three out of four Americans worry that treatment may not be available for those who need it.

"Unforeseen Benefits" describes peer-reviewed research and studies showing that treatment of addiction, a pervasive yet treatable chronic disease, can contain costs.

For example, it recounts how one study showed that total medical costs were reduced 26 percent among a group of patients who received treatment addiction. Another study showed that a group of at-risk alcohol users who received brief counseling recorded 20 percent fewer emergency department visits and 37 percent fewer days of hospitalization.

Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) is a national program initiated by the Open Society Institute and involving nine other local and national organizations working to expand addiction treatment. This initiative is designed to create an awareness of -- and increase resources to close -- an alarming treatment gap: currently, four out of five Americans who need drug and alcohol addiction treatment are unable to get it. The initiative aims to mobilize public support for expanded treatment by increasing public funding, broadening insurance coverage, and achieving greater program efficiency.

The Open Society Institute, a private operating and grantmaking foundation, works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. OSI works in over 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as in the United States.

    CONTACT: Amanda Deaver

    Debra Rubino

SOURCE Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap
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