The cost-effectiveness of therapies to treat alcohol use disorders
Introduction: Alcohol use is a major risk factor for mortality and morbidity burden, and alcohol use disorders contribute markedly to this burden. Effective interventions for alcohol use disorders improve health, and are potentially cost-effective or even cost saving.
Areas covered: We searched the literature for the cost-effectiveness of alcohol interventions. We included behavioral, pharmacological and combined interventions, and research from both a health care provider and a societal perspective.
Overall, many economic research studies pointed towards existing cost-beneficial therapies from the perspective of a health care provider; i.e. the costs for interventions were smaller than the savings in services delivery in the years thereafter. Even if this was not the case, the interventions proved to be cost-effective with a threshold below $20,000 per quality-adjusted life year.
Expert Commentary: While most of the economic research to date shows promising results, such research is relatively scarce and not always rigorous. More, and more rigorous economic research is needed to fully understand the potential impact of alcohol interventions. However, even with this research, something needs to be done to reduce stigmatization of alcohol use disorders in order to fully reap the benefits of alcohol interventions.