RTI International finds TROSA, an innovative substance abuse treatment program, saves North Carolina $7.5 million annually

People who use opioids and other drugs get treatment plus job training


Research Triangle Park, NC — TROSA, a therapeutic community providing substance abuse treatment and job training, saves North Carolina $7.5 million every year, according to an independent study conducted by RTI International.

TROSA is an innovative, multi-year residential program that provides people struggling with substance use disorder with treatment, vocational training, education, and continuing care.

“Since 2010, the percentage of TROSA program participants who used opioids increased from 15 to 40 percent,” TROSA founder, president and CEO Kevin McDonald said. “Given the devastating effects the opioid epidemic is having across the country, we hope that programs like ours—which we now know is clearly saving the state money - can serve as a model for other states addressing their own drug use problems.”

“TROSA’s model of care provides both comprehensive treatment for people who misuse drugs and job training to help them get on their feet and become productive members of the community,” said Alexander Cowell, Ph.D., senior research economist at RTI. “Our goal was to fill gaps in research and understand whether this innovative approach saves the state money.”

The research showed that TROSA’s programs save North Carolina money by preventing arrests, incarceration, and emergency hospital visits.

RTI researchers looked at self-reported data from residents, including number of hospital visits and arrests before entering TROSA, as well as administrative data like probation-status and healthcare utilization. Cost data were analyzed across six domains: emergency room visits, outpatient doctor visits, arrests, probation/parole, incarceration, and homelessness.

“While the savings are significant, our analysis was conservative,” Cowell said. “TROSA’s savings to the state are likely even larger if you factor in the vocational training and education programs it provides.”

Since 1994, TROSA has provided services to more than 7,300 people. Of those who complete the program, 95 percent maintain their sobriety and 85 percent have found and retained employment one year after graduation.

“We are very proud of the work we do and the benefits it provides to our residents, their families and our state,” McDonald said. “It’s great to know that not only are we helping people overcome addiction and improve their lives, but we are also saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year.”