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Is rehab a good investment?

9 Jul 2015

Is rehab a good investment?

Helping people overcome drug problems and rebuild their lives benefits individuals and their families, but what return on investment does it provide to taxpayers, donors and society?

Listen to Odyssey House CEO James Pitts in conversation on this important issue


Long-term residential rehabilitation saves and rebuilds lives

Odyssey House provides high quality rehabilitation services to a broad cross section of the community, particularly people who can’t afford treatment in a private facility and who are often disadvantaged and have difficult histories and circumstances.

Odyssey House’s long-term residential rehabilitation 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.

We help around 650 people every year and our success rate is excellent – independent research shows two-thirds of clients are abstinent three years after completing treatment.

To achieve this requires a relatively modest investment: the Odyssey House budget is approximately $6 million dollars a year, funded mainly by grants from the federal and NSW governments. However, at least $600,000 in donations must be raised each year to keep Odyssey House going and cover the growing shortfall between government funding and the realities of providing high quality treatment services. We have become very adept at making every one of these dollars count.

Several studies show an impressive benefit to society from investing in alcohol and other drug treatment programs.


Odyssey House saves society $60 million a year

Research specific to Odyssey House shows clients cost society on average approximately $200,000 a year or $548 per day in the 12 months before they entered treatment. This includes the costs of criminal activity, drug use, law enforcement and court costs, welfare benefits and healthcare services.

Every day a client spends in rehab is a drug-free and crime-free day. During the time of our study, 65 clients accounted for 11,443 drug-free and crime-free days, saving society almost $6.3 million. With 650 clients accessing our services each year on average, Odyssey House typically saves the community more than $60 million annually.


Rehab delivers a 600 per cent return

A large longitudinal research project called the California Drug and Alcohol Treatment Assessment or CALDATA project followed more than 1,800 clients over several years to assess the outcomes of treatment, the costs involved, and the economic value of treatment.

It found every $1 invested in alcohol and other drug treatment results in a $7 saving to the community, a 600 per cent return on investment. The biggest savings were in reducing the costs associated with illicit drug use and criminal behaviour, but it also found improvements in education, employment and income, mental and physical health and family issues.

If you are thinking of supporting Odyssey House, be assured your investment will deliver an excellent dollar return and certainly be more cost effective than sending someone to prison. But the most important benefit is that Odyssey House has helped more than 35,000 Australians overcome addiction and turn their lives around since 1977. This is priceless.