The relative contribution of outcome domains in the total economic benefit of addiction interventions: A review of first findings

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Aims: This paper provides a focused summary of the relative contribution of addiction intervention outcomes to total economic benefit, based upon a compilation of published economic studies from the United States. Design: The relevant literature was searched extensively, and 11 economic studies were selected for review. Setting: The selected addiction interventions address both alcohol use/abuse and illicit drug use/abuse and represent various treatment modalities, including a brief physician intervention and long-term residential programs. Participants: Study participants included community-based drug users, pregnant and/or parenting women, problem drinkers, and criminal offenders. Measurements: These studies estimated the economic benefits of an addiction intervention(s) in terms of one or more of the following outcome domains: criminal activity, health services utilization, employment earnings, and expenditures on illicit drugs and alcohol. Findings: The primary finding of this review was that avoided criminal activity was the greatest economic benefit of addiction interventions and contributed more, as a separate outcome domain, to the total economic benefit of addiction interventions than any other outcome domain. Reduced utilization of health care services was also a noteworthy economic benefit of addiction interventions. Conclusions: This study provides a detailed exposition of economic benefits estimation and highlights the potential impact of individual outcomes, thus providing a useful resource for substance abuse researchers and administrators as they design and evaluate future interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1647-1659
Number of pages13
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Addiction treatment
  • Benefit-cost analyses
  • Economic benefits
  • Economic evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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