Survey: Oklahoma's Substance Abuse Spending Trails State Average

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- States spend billions of dollars cleaning up the "wreckage" of drug, alcohol and cigarette abuse -- about as much as they pay for higher education -- but little of that money goes to treatment and prevention programs, according to a private study released Monday.

The three-year, state-by-state study, titled "Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets," estimates states spent $81.3 billion dealing with substance abuse in 1998, about 13 percent of their budgets. Of the total, $7.4 billion was for tobacco- related illnesses.

Of the total spent, about $3 billion was for prevention and treatment programs. The rest was drawn from state services ranging from law enforcement and welfare to health care and education.

Oklahoma showed different trends in 1998. The state spent $705.48 million on substance abuse, less than half the $1.56 billion average of all states. At $213, the Sooner State's spending per capita also trailed the state average of $299, but only by 29 percent.

Oklahoma's spending related to substance abuse accounted for 10.5 percent of its budget in 1998. Prevention, treatment and research accounted for only 0.5 percent of the state budget. In comparison, Medicaid pulled even less of the $6.7 billion state budget -- $488 million. …