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Hurricane Harvey Takes a Toll, Still Celebrate Recovery

Hurricane Harvey Takes a Toll, Still Celebrate Recovery

National Recovery Month has a dual meaning for the state of Texas this year where earlier this month Hurricane Harvey devastated much of our coastline communities from Corpus Christi to Galveston.

Houston was particularly hard hit; as the nation’s fourth largest city a majority of businesses—not to mention homes, churches and community centers—went underwater.

Gov. Greg Abbott estimates that recovery efforts related to this storm could skyrocket to as much as $180 billion. Those hard costs do not include the emotional toll on our fellow Texans, including those dealing with substance use. There’s no way to put a price tag on those traumatic costs.

I find myself wondering how much money will be spent on addiction recovery efforts this month, as the effects of substance use disorders—particularly with alcohol and opioids—continue to ravage our country. How much are we willing to spend to offset the cost of substance use disorders?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates the annual costs of substance use disorders is about $740 billion. These include addiction treatment, lost earnings, healthcare, family and societal costs, including accidents and crimes.

That means we the taxpayers spend nearly $62 billion every single month to “recover” the costs of substance use disorders. This is roughly one-third of the cost of Hurricane Harvey cleanup.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this clean up routine. How I wish we could be proactive and spend more money on the front end—in prevention dollars—to save spending even more to clean up on the back-end—after addiction has caused a different kind of storm in our communities.

This year’s theme for Recovery Month is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.” Drug Prevention Resources is all about strengthening families and communities. Ironically, the per-child cost of providing a solid, school-based prevention program is $220. Nationwide implementation of prevention programs could save up to $64 for every $1 invested. (Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, 2016).

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am all-in with Recovery Month. I hope hundreds of people show up in Galveston on October 7 for the Big Texas Rally for Recovery. My 29 years of recovery mean the world to me.

But prevention and creating a drug-free generation is my mantra. It’s what the “new and improved” DPR is all about. We hope you’ll agree and join the voices of recovery AND prevention!

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