Why Alcohol and Drug Fines Should Support CDAP


September 9, 2010

The cost and consequences of alcohol and substance use disorders place an enormous burden on American society in general, and on South Carolina in particular. As one of our nationís largest health problems, addiction strains the health care system, depresses the economy, devastates family life, threatens public safety, overwhelms our criminal justice system, and compromises national preparedness.

Scientific documentation defines alcohol and drug dependence as a disease that has roots in genetic susceptibility, leads to brain adaptation, and changes personal behavior. Alcohol and drug dependence affects all levels of society, genders, and races.

South Carolina alcohol and drug statistics, while similar to those for other states, are worse in some areas.  For instance, in SC 50% of total traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, whereas the national average is 37%.

South Carolina Statistics  (Sources available on request)

  • The total number of individuals with an alcohol use disorder over a one-year period was 266,000.  Of those, 17,000 were between the ages of 12-17 years old and 89,000 were between the ages of 18-25 years old.
  • The total number of binge alcohol users over a one-month period was 762,000. Of these, 30,000 were between the ages of 12-17 and 193,000 between the ages of 18-25.
  • Of the 2,030,500 employees in SC, 138,074 are problem drinkers. 
  •  About 15,000 people a year are arrested in SC for drunk driving.
  •  44% of car crash deaths involve a driver who had .08% blood-alcohol content or higher and in 2008, killing 463 people.
  • Among young people ages 15 to 24, alcohol use is the major cause of death. Of all deaths in this age group each year, 45% are due to alcohol use, primarily alcohol-related car crashes, and 9% are attributable to the use of other drugs.
  •  Approximately 253,000 (7%) of South Carolina citizens (ages 12 or older) reported use of an illicit drug in the past month.

Cost of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in South Carolina is $2.5 billion/yr.

  • In 2005, 8.5% of the total state of SC budget ($934 million) was spent on substance abuse and addiction equating to $216 per South Carolina resident - of this only $1.39 is spent on education and prevention, and, to our knowledge, none on research into better prevention and treatment.
  • Alcohol costs South Carolina employers an estimated $1.8 billion a year in productivity losses, mostly due to missed work.
  • Alcohol related health care costs in SC are estimated to be $539,629,741 per year.
  • Every person in SC (ages 18 and older) pays almost $1,000 a year to cover the costs associated with alcohol and other drug abuse.
  •   Healthcare and treatment costs associated with the use of alcohol total approximately $149 million a year in SC.
  • South Carolinians pay an additional $46 million a year in healthcare and treatment costs associated with the use of other drugs.
  •  More than 70 conditions requiring hospitalization are attributable in whole, or in part, to substance abuse, including HIV/AIDS, liver disease, hypertension, coronary heart disease, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer, oral cavity cancer, pneumonia and respiratory diseases.

Alcohol and Drug-Related Violent Crime 

  •  On June 30, 2007, there were 23,434 inmates under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Department of Corrections.  48% of these inmates were classified as chemically dependent, 20% were incarcerated with dangerous drugs as their most serious offense.
  • More than two-thirds of all burglaries, more than three-fourths of all murders and almost one-half of all rapes are committed while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Impact on the Workplace

  • Individuals with alcohol or substance use disorders are injured on the job two to five times more often.
  • Individuals with alcohol or substance use disorders are up to 31% less productive.
  • Alcohol and other drug abuse in South Carolina is a factor in 39% of all insubordination problems and/or product or service quality problems.                      

Impact on Families

  • Child abuse and neglect, incest, domestic violence, suicides, homicides and homelessness are a few of the many problems linked directly to alcohol and other drug abuse.
  • One in four South Carolinians has family problems related to alcohol or other drug abuse.
  • Over one-half of all cases of homelessness are related to alcohol and/or other drug abuse.
  • Children of alcoholicís exhibit emotional and adjustment difficulties and are up to four times more likely than other children to develop alcoholism themselves.


Medical University of South Carolinaís Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs (CDAP)
MUSCís Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs (CDAP) is a nationally-recognized research, academic and clinical center serving the citizens of SC and beyond.  Within CDAP is one of only 15 alcohol research centers in the US funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which invests in our world-class research. Research on alcohol disorders, as well as cocaine and methamphetamine, has lead to a better understanding of the brain mechanisms that support addiction. This in turn has lead to new tests and treatments to better prevent and ameliorate suffering and economic costs. For the past several years, US News and World Report has ranked CDAP as one of the best drug and alcohol graduate programs in the country.  Since its inception in 1995, CDAP has treated thousands of patients in free clinical trials and fee-for-service programs, translating research findings into the most modern care for addictions that exist nationally. Research conducted at CDAP has been the pride of MUSC and brought national recognition to South Carolina. However, the Center needs a stable and secure source of infrastructure funding to advance its science and to attract world-class investigators to our State.

In North Carolina, approximately $1 million per year from DUI fines goes to support the Alcohol Research Bowles Center at the University of North Carolina. This model of financial support would be transformational to the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs; it would help attract and retain new faculty, support growing indirect costs and infrastructure needs, and allow for new research initiatives to prevent and treat alcohol and drug use disorders. 

Bottom Line
Money from DUI Fines, open container fines, boating under the influence fines and drug-related fines and confiscations would provide much needed financial support to help us discover new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat alcohol and drug dependence, as well as help us reduce the stigma associated with the disease of addiction.  Compared to other medical disciplines, addiction research is seriously underfunded even though it remains one of our greatest public health problems, as evidenced by the above statistics.  This is, in large part, due to the stigma associated with alcohol and drug use disorders. We need to work together to change this way of thinking and expand funding opportunities. The citizens of South Carolina deserve better. We have the opportunity to provide that for them, for our nation, and the world. Please assist us in this goal by helping to define ongoing sources of State funding for the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina.







Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs
67 President Street
MSC 861
Charleston, SC
(843) 792-2727