The Durham-based substance abuse recovery program TROSA saves North Carolina $7.5 million annually.
That's according to an independent study by the Research Triangle Park-based nonprofit research group RTI International.
The savings come largely from avoided costs. TROSA, Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, helps drug abusers. By helping these people, the state saves money on health care and law enforcement.
It's likely the savings are actually higher because the study looked only at TROSA's direct savings in the year before and after patients receive treatment.
"Also we're not looking at any costs after they leave TROSA," said RTI research associate Joel. "So employment, staying sober. We're not looking at any social benefits or anything post-TROSA, which I think some research has shown can be quite beneficial."
Although there wasn't as much direct savings on the health care side as the criminal justice side, the report noted that TROSA participants health care use tended to transition from emergency room visits to outpatient doctor's visits after participation in the program.
"So even though there isn't as much of a cost savings, that is a much more efficient use of the the health care system," Cartwright said.
TROSA requested the report, and research was conducted without charge.
Cartwright said his team surveyed hundreds of TROSA participants to see if they experienced those events in the past 12 months before being treated. TROSA has about 500 people in its rehabilitative programs annually.