News & Events

Rehab builds lives…..and delivers 600% return on investment

in News
13 Apr 2016

Helping people overcome alcohol or other drug problems and rebuild their lives has multiple and often immeasurable benefits to the individuals themselves, their loved ones, their local communities and society.

Odyssey House’s long-term, comprehensive program effectively assists clients to deal with the personal issues underling their drug dependence, overcome any mental health issues, take control of their lives, and become contributing, law-abiding citizens.

In fact, more than two-thirds of clients maintain the gains made through treatment at Odyssey House. The Australian Treatment Outcome Study followed a sample of Odyssey House graduates and found 67 per cent were drug-free and crime-free three years after completing treatment. (A ten-year follow up is underway.)

To achieve these successes requires significant investment on many fronts.

Odyssey House clients invest months and often years of their lives on the arduous journey of rehabilitation to emerge as confident, caring, responsible individuals with a sense of self-worth and adequacy who can cope with life’s challenges without resorting to drugs.

Our 60 staff invest hours of effort, quality care and “tough love” to assist around 650 clients every year, rising to the challenge of seeing the true worth and potential that lies within each person we help.

And, a significant monetary investment – $6 million annually – is required to enable Odyssey House to make high quality rehabilitation services available to a broad cross section of the community, particularly people who cannot afford treatment in a private facility. Our residential rehabilitation program costs $232 per person per day or $84,680 p.a. (by comparison, keeping a person in prison in Australia costs $305 pp/day or $111,325 p.a.1). This is funded by clients’ government benefits (approx. $5000 p.a.) and grants from the federal and NSW governments. However, an additional $600,000 in private donations must be raised each year to keep Odyssey House going.

So, what is the return on this investment?

Every $1 invested in alcohol and other drug treatment results in a $7 saving to the community, according to the large longitudinal CALDATA research project. This represents a 600 per cent return on investment. The study concluded the biggest savings were in reducing the costs associated with illicit drug use and criminal behaviour.

In the year prior to treatment, our research shows Odyssey House residents cost society approximately $122 million or $185,000 per person2. This is based on the costs of criminal activity, drug use, law enforcement and court costs, welfare benefits and healthcare.

Also, there is no drug use or criminal activity while a person is at Odyssey House. In 2012-13, residents accounted for 29,312 drug-free and crime-free days, saving society almost $15 million. So, over almost 37 years of operation, we have saved society more than half a billion dollars.

But the most important return on investment is that Odyssey House has helped more than 35,000 Australians turn their lives around. This is priceless.

1 Report of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee (2013) Value of a justice reinvestment approach to criminal justice in Australia.

2 Pitts, J.A. and Yates, R. (2010). Cost Benefits of Therapeutic Community Programming: Results of a Self-funded Survey, Therapeutic Communities, 31, 2.