Funding Prevention Makes Economic Sense, Researchers Say

Every dollar invested in substance-abuse prevention yields $10 in savings, according to researchers from Iowa State University who recently presented their findings to the United Nations.

Researchers Richard Spoth, director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State, and colleague Max Guyll told attendees at the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime/World Health Organization meeting in December that studies of PPSI’s Iowa Strengthening Families Program (ISFP) and Life Skills Training Program (LST) demonstrated significant cost benefits.

The research estimated how many cases of drug use each intervention prevented, then compared the cost of each successful intervention to the cost savings to the community. Spoth and Guyll said that ISFP yielded a $9.60 return for each $1 invested in preventing alcohol disorders, while LST has a $9.98 return on investment in terms of preventing methamphetamine use.

The International Narcotics Control Board has asked Spoth to help develop a report on the state of the art of prevention. The reports on ISFP and LST are available online.