Alcohol Dependence Treatment Tied to Social Cost Savings

Researchers find association between social cost savings and several treatments
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment for alcohol dependence may result in reduced median social costs associated with arrests, vehicle accidents and health care, according to a study in the May issue of Medical Care.

To estimate the costs of treatment and the costs of health care use, vehicular accidents and arrests, and the potential impact of alcohol dependency treatment on broader social costs, Gary A. Zarkin, Ph.D., of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues conducted a cost study of 786 participants of the combined pharmacotherapies and behavioral intervention (COMBINE) trial three years after randomization.

In the multivariate analysis, the researchers found no significant difference between the mean cost of any of the nine alcohol dependence treatments and medical management (MM) with placebo. The median costs, however, of MM with acamprosate, MM with naltrexone, MM with acamprosate and naltrexone, and MM with acamprosate and combined behavior intervention were significantly lower than MM with placebo, ranging from $2,500 to $3,800 less.

"The results show that social cost savings are generated relative to MM plus placebo by three years postrandomization, and the magnitude of these cost savings is greater than the costs of the COMBINE treatment received three years prior. Our study suggests that several alcohol treatments may indeed lead to reduced median social costs associated with health care, arrests, and motor vehicle accidents," the authors write.

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