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drugs & alcohol

Prevention: key to solving substance abuse?

Published tisdag 2 november 2010 kl 16.00
"We don't have a good system..."
(4:20 min)
Despite the fact that Sweden controls alcohol through a state-run store, alcohol abuse still costs communities roughly 10 billion U.S. dollars a year. Photo: Fredrik Persson / SCANPIX

Drug, alcohol and pharmaceuticals abuse is costing Sweden over 20 billion U.S. dollars a year, so shows the results of an ongoing investigation by the state authority against substance abuse, published in today's newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

Government investigator, Gerhard Larsson, is in charge of the investigation aiming to save Sweden money and decrease cases of death, illness and unemployment that substance abuse causes. The study paints a grim picture of the situation here. Just one in five people who need treatment get it, and over the last decade, the problem has grown.

Larsson explains to Radio Sweden why just one person's addiction to heroin, for example, can cost her community more than a million U.S. dollars.

When the person commits crimes to support the habit, the community pays for police, judges, prison stays and the like. He believes that prevention and early detection are the most effective treatments for drug and alcohol abuse and that proper treatment can actually lead to savings for the community – especially if the person can get back to work.

"You can earn money to have more treatment at the beginning," says Larsson. He adds that getting Parliament to understand that more money should be reallocated from punishment to early substance abuse treatment.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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