Treating mental illness and substance use disorders can be expensive. Yet, the marginal costs of addressing these conditions in the hospital are low because the facilities are already in place. Treating opioid addiction is cost-effective when considering savings in health care and criminal justice costs. If treatment were available in all California hospitals, each year an estimated 12,100 people could be retained in treatment, generating savings of $786.5 million in health care and criminal justice costs over the lifetime of these individuals.*
This projection is based on original CA Bridge project data from 51 hospitals, representing 21% of all the hospital beds in the state. These hospitals connected 1,694 patients to addiction treatment in a four-month period which translates to 5,082 annually. Scaling these services up to all hospitals in the state would result in a five-fold increase to 24,200 patients annually. Based on the literature, approximately 50% of these patients will be retained in care, or 12,100. If we assume an average lifetime cost savings of $65,000 for each person retained in care, it generates $786.5 million in lifetime savings each year.