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Report: Substance abuse takes toll on Alaska economy

Alaska Dispatch

According to a report by economic researchers from McDowell Group, drug and alcohol abuse cost the state of Alaska an estimated $1.2 billion in 2010.

The study was funded by the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Alaska Mental Health Board and the Alaska Mental Trust Authority, and it concerns the negative economic impact that drug and alcohol abuse has on the economy statewide.

When parsed out, such abuse cost Alaska in 2010 approximately $673.2 million in productivity losses, $50.5 million in traffic accident costs, $13.2 million in public assistance and social services, $237.3 million in health care and $217.7 million in criminal justice and protective services.

Kate Burkhart, executive director of the Alaska Mental Health Board and Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse said in a statement that the report is useful because it puts the impact of substance abuse into concrete terms. "It will inform public policy and help us measure the effectiveness of state and community prevention, treatment, and recovery programs," she said.

Substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol, has been a longstanding problem all across the state. According to the 2011 Alaska Scorecard, some 21,000 residents, ranging in age from 12 and up, are alcohol dependent. While approximately 16,951 Alaskan adults were experiencing serious substance use disorders.

To read the report in full, click here, and for The Alaska Scorecard, click here.