ANCHORAGE - A recent report by the McDowell Group says alcohol and drug abuse cost Alaska's economy $1.2 billion in 2010.
"I don't think people think about it being an economic cost to anyone other than the individual who’s drinking or using,” said Rosalie Nadeau, C.E.O. of Akeela.
“It's a real cost to all of us,” she said.
The state contracted the McDowell Group to look into the costs to help policy makers find better solutions to the problems of substance abuse.
The single largest economic cost of alcohol and drug abuse is premature death, which led to $424.1 million in lost productivity in 2010.
“So those are all Alaskans that, if they weren't experiencing a substance use disorder or were in recovery, they would be able to contribute to our communities and our economy,” said Kate Burkhart, Executive Director of the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse for the State of Alaska.
The report also says diminished productivity as a result of mental or physical impairment from alcohol and drug abuse totaled $174 million in 2010.
And with addiction comes crime.
It cost the state $217.7 million to arrest, investigate, prosecute and incarcerate people who committed crimes attributed to alcohol and drug abuse in 2010.
The report says in 2010, there were 18,296 arrests in Alaska attributed to alcohol and drug abuse and 1,529 incarcerations.
Experts on the front line of rehabilitation say treatment for those suffering from addiction is a way to save money in the long run.
“We talk about treatment, we talk about rehabilitation, we look at those kinds of things – yes they cost money. They don't cost anywhere near the money it costs, out of the pocket of taxpayers, to put people in prisons and to take care of their children and ultimately to take care of them,” said Rosalie Nadeau of Akeela.