Evidence-based programs to prevent substance abuse can advance the health and welfare of children and families across the country, save millions of dollars that are now spent on drug and alcohol treatment, and address emerging drug abuse crises. Mathematica is pleased to participate in National Prevention Week by highlighting two of our research projects that advance the public’s awareness of substance abuse and its effect on family health—and promote action to strengthen families.
Evidence-based programs for families at risk of substance abuse and child maltreatment. Congress reauthorized Regional Partnership Grants (RPGs) in 2011. Findings from Mathematica’s ongoing national cross-site evaluation of RPGs reveal that adults in families served by the partnerships experience parenting stress and poor mental health—risk factors for future substance abuse and child maltreatment—at rates well above the national average. When they enroll in RPG services, 35 percent of the adults already have high levels of drug and alcohol use. Marijuana, amphetamines, and alcohol are among the most commonly used substances; 9 percent used heroin and 40 percent used other opiates. RPG grantees are contributing rich data that Mathematica is using to evaluate the supportive RPG programs and practices designed to strengthen families and treat substance abuse. The evaluations will help policymakers and providers understand the types of prevention and intervention that work best for at-risk families.
Understanding the cost of excessive drinking in the United States. Excessive drinking cost the nation almost $250 billion in 2010. Two out of every five dollars were paid by the government, and three-quarters of the costs were related to binge drinking. A November 2015 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals evidence-based strategies that can help reduce excessive drinking and its related costs. The strategies include imposing higher excise taxes on alcohol, limiting alcohol outlet density, and strengthening commercial host liability laws. This study updates national and state cost estimates to inform the planning and implementation of new strategies to prevent substance abuse.