Economic Impact of Addiction in California

Californian’s know that when addicts seek and receive treatment, it’s good for the whole community. In 2013 Stephen Bright and Stephen Wirtz, two PH.D.’s offered a report to the Governor on the costs of substance abuse in california. They set out to make an economic case for Alcohol and Drug treatment and prevention. (


According to Bright and Wirtz, the total cost of drug and alcohol abuse per California resident in the year 2010 was almost 5 thousand dollars per resident! Alcohol came in costing each resident ~3500, and illicit drug use came in at costing each resident ~1500 per resident. That’s quite an impact per california resident. But what does it mean for the state as a whole?


Tangible Costs and Quality of Life Costs of Addiction

All together the total cost of alcohol and illicit drug abuse in California state in 2010 was 172.6 billion dollars. Bright and Wirtz calculate this number a couple of ways. The first is in “tangible costs”, and the second calculation is in “Quality of Life”.


Tangible Costs –

  • Medical
  • Wage Work
  • Household Work
  • Public Services
  • Property Damage
  • Miscellaneous Motor Vehicle Costs


The total tangible costs of addiction falls almost completely on the California community and hurts local economy. Government sources: federal, state, local, only take about 25% of the hit for the tangible costs of addiction in the state of California. Most of the cost is laid upon California’s citizens. 76%, over 40 billion dollars is taken out of California citizen’s pockets. Here are some of the ways that Bright and Wirtz  accounted for that money:

  • Businesses: increased turnover, insurance rates spiking, lack of productivity
  • Health Care
  • Reduced incomes
  • Increased insurance Premiums
  • Property Damages


Quality of Life Costs to California Residents

Bright and Wirtz included an interesting number in their findings. A Quality of LIfe economic cost. Bright and Wirtz explain the system like this:


  • “Method used in economic analyses to measure disease burden and value health outcomes
    • Function of length and quality of life lived  
    • Reflects both lives saved and valuations of quality of life”


  • “QALY assumes that a year of life lived in perfect health is worth 1 QALY (1 Year of Life × 1 Utility value = 1 QALY) and that a year of life lived in a state of less than this perfect health is worth less than 1.  
  • Cost effectiveness is expressed as ‘$ per QALY’.”


Bright and Wirtz estimate a whopping 120 billion of the weight of the economic costs of substance abuse in California is a Quality of Life cost.


Seeking Treatment in California

If you are looking for treatment in California  Aspire Health Network can help answer any questions you may have about how treatment in one of our programs can help you or your loved one. Some people prefer to seek treatment out-of-state, they find that the space from their addiction environment can make it easier at first, to resist cravings and triggers. If you would rather seek treatment outside of California, Aspire Health Network has treatment centers in states like Oregon, Alaska, or Washington.

Call now to learn more.