Economic Benefits of the Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA) Program to the State of North Carolina
Research provides some support for the effectiveness and associated cost savings associated with treatment (Sasso, Byro, Jason, Ferrari, & Olson, 2012; Zarkin et al., 2012). However, without targeted research, the impacts of specific treatment program are unknown. This study examines the economic benefits of Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA), a comprehensive residential substance abuse recovery program located in Durham, North Carolina. This study was conducted without charge by RTI International at the request of TROSA, which wished to have an independent estimate of any benefits to North Carolina that accrue because of the availability of their program.
North Carolina realizes substantial savings as residents enter TROSA and receive treatment, training, and healthy and safe living environments in lieu of being on the street, using drugs, and engaging in criminal activity. This study examined only the costs associated with criminal justice involvement, health care use, and homelessness over a 12-month pre-post TROSA admission time frame. It does not account for many other benefits provided by the program. Evidence has shown that substance abuse treatment reduces recidivism for arrests, drug-related crimes, and violent crimes (Garnick et al., 2014), which suggests out-year benefits in savings from reduced criminal justice involvement among those who go to TROSA. For example, the lifetime benefits of methadone treatment have been shown to outweigh the costs by 37:1 (Zarkin, Dunlap, Hicks, & Mamo, 2005). This study also did not consider future employment by this population. Employment prospects will likely improve after graduating from TROSA because, in addition to being sober, residents receive vocational training and life skills training. Finally, this study does not monetize the benefits to the community, families, and friends of TROSA graduates who return to their homes sober and ready to reengage in a productive life.