Cooperative Efforts and Collateral Effects: The Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Statewide Substance Abuse Treatment System
Collins, Peter A.
MetadataShow full item record
Idaho is presently facing major budget shortfalls. Social services, such as those associated with substance abuse treatment, are often considered ripe grounds for trimming costs. Currently, there is a growing demand at the state (and national) levels for cost-benefit research. In response to this demand, this study employed cost-benefit methods to measure the economic benefits associated with the provision of substance abuse treatment. Taking methodological advantage of a naturalistic study design, this study was able to compare treatment group outcomes with those of a propensity score matched comparison group. The overall cost-benefit findings were mixed. Outcomes tied to client monetary earnings and involvement in the Idaho Department of Correction did not strongly indicate a difference in patterns in favor of the treatment group. In regard to criminal recidivism, however, the outcomes fell significantly in favor of the treatment group. Findings reported here indicated that a one-dollar investment in treatment saved $1.46 in the fifteen-month study period following discharge from treatment. Therefore, it is clear that treatment, compared to the absence of treatment, has a positive overall effect on these economic outcomes. To lend context to the cost-benefit findings, this research utilized inter-disciplinary theoretical concepts from the fields of public policy analysis, criminal justice administration, and criminology. Notably, substance abuse is considered a complex public problem (referred to as a "wicked problem") and substance abuse treatment is considered a form of social support. In recognizing that the provision of substance abuse treatment is a valid form of social support, this study expands our understanding of the role of policy-makers within treatment systems. More specifically, this study details the impact that the network, collaborative capacity, and wicked problem concepts have on the criminal justice and treatment fields. Findings related to a collaborative capacity survey indicate a need for improvement in the relationships between and among the main treatment network partners, to identify and acquire sustainable financial and intellectual support, and form a stable network structure that can handle the research needs of the system.