In Brief

Two-thirds of Americans with serious substance abuse treatment needs are not being treated, according to new data from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) in its report National Estimates of Expenditures for Substance Abuse Treatment.

The report finds that the price tag for treating alcohol and drug abuse in 1997 cost $11.9 billion, and the societal costs of such substance abuse cost more than $294 billion.

"There is no other medical condition for which the American public would tolerate only $11.9 billion in treatment expenditures while enduring over $294 billion in social costs," says CSAT Director H. Westley Clark, MD, JD, MPH.

The report also notes that in 1997, 6.4 percent of Americans age 12 and older used illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs. In addition, 15.3 percent reported that they had engaged in binge drinking in the past month and 5.4 percent drank alcoholic beverages heavily.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said the Bush administration has proposed an additional $100 million in treatment funds for fiscal year 2002. "We cannot permit untreated substance abuse to wreak havoc on our families and communities," he said.

For a copy of the CSAT document, visit www.health.org or www.samhsa.gov, or call (800) 729-6686; TTD for the hearing impaired (800) 487-4889.

--S. MARTIN