|Investing in prevention makes great economic sense, according to a new study. The report, part of a series of economic studies conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), determined that communities will reap substantial savings by using effective drug abuse and violence prevention programs. Among the most dramatic findings were those for a drug abuse and violence prevention program called Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST). Researchers found that the LST program produced a $50 benefit for every $1 invested–yielding the highest return on investment of any substance abuse prevention curriculum studied.
“We know that effective prevention programs can produce a powerful public health benefit by helping teens avoid the damaging effects of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drug abuse, and violence. This updated report proves that it has the added benefit of also making good economic sense,” said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, professor emeritus at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College and developer of the LST program. “A relatively small upfront investment in a proven prevention program such as LST can yield tremendous health and economic benefits in terms of both the positive health effects it provides students and the potential cost savings for communities and the larger society.”
Tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug abuse cost the United States over $500 billion a year. Therefore, the nationwide use of prevention programs that have been tested and proven effective offer considerable economic benefits at a time when health costs are spiraling higher each year. Unfortunately, surveys show that most schools are not using programs proven to work. And just as programs vary in effectiveness, they also vary in their costs, economic benefits, and potential return on investment. Encouraging the use of tested and effective prevention programs shown to produce a high return on investment can produce substantial savings and help cut health costs throughout the country.
Washington State Institute for Public Policy provided the results of new analyses in their most recent report entitled “Return on Investment: Evidence-Based Options to Improve Statewide Outcomes.” The report, similar to an investment advisor’s “buy-sell” list, contains current recommendations on policy options that can give taxpayers a good return on their investment (“buys”), as well as those that apparently cannot (“sells”). Investing in LST represents a 50-to-1 return to communities in terms of reduced corrections costs, welfare and social services burdens, drug and mental health treatment, and increased employment and tax revenue. This 50-to-1 return is an increase over the last report in April 2012 of a 38-to-1 return.
About Botvin LifeSkills Training
Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is an evidence-based substance abuse and violence prevention program used in schools and communities throughout the U.S. and in 36 countries around the world. LST has been extensively tested and proven to reduce tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use by as much as 80%. It is effective when implemented using different delivery formats, when taught by different providers, and when delivered to different populations. It works with elementary school, middle school, and high school students. Long-term follow-up studies also show that it produces prevention effects that are durable and long-lasting. For more information call 800-293-4969 or visit www.lifeskillstraining.com.
New Report Highlights the Economic Power of Prevention: LifeSkills Training Program Saves $50 for Every $1 Spent