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Public spending for illegal drug and alcohol treatment in hospitals: an EU cross-country comparison

Delfine Lievens (UGent) , Freya Vander Laenen (UGent) and Johan Christiaens (UGent)
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Abstract
Background: In view of the current economic crisis and the resulting austerity measures being implemented by governments across Europe, public expenditure for substance abuse treatment has increasingly become a subject of discussion. An EU cross-country comparison would allow an estimation of the total amount of public resources spent on substance abuse treatment, compare various substance abuse treatment funding options, and evaluate the division of expenditures between alcohol and illegal drugs. The purpose of this study is to estimate the public spending of EU countries for alcohol and illegal drug abuse treatment in hospitals. Methods: Our study uses a uniform methodology in order to enable valid cross-national comparisons. Our data are drawn from the Eurostat database, which provides anno 2010 data on government spending for the treatment of illegal drug and alcohol abuse in 21 EU member states. The cross-country comparison is restricted to hospitals, since data were unavailable for other types of treatment providers. The systematic registration of in- and outpatient data is essential to monitoring public expenditures on substance abuse treatment using international databases. Results: Total public spending for hospital-based treatment of illegal drug and alcohol abuse in the 21 EU member states studied is estimated to be 7.6 billion euros. Per capita expenditures for treatment of illegal drug abuse vary, ranging from 0.1 euros in Romania to 13 euros in Sweden. For alcohol abuse, that figure varied from 0.9 euros in Bulgaria to 24 euros in Austria. These results confirm other studies indicating that public expenditures for alcohol treatment exceed that for illegal drug treatment. Conclusions: Multiple factors may influence the number of hospital days for alcohol or illegal substance abuse treatment, and expenditures fluctuate accordingly. In this respect, we found a strong correlation between gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and public expenditures per hospital day. The prevalence of problematic ( illegal or legal) drug use in a country did not correlate significantly with the number of hospital days. Other factors must be included in the analysis of public expenditures for the treatment of substance abuse, such as the drug policy in a given country and the social norms regarding alcohol consumption.
Keywords
Europe, Public expenditure, Hospital based treatment, Public health, Substance abuse, Alcohol, Drugs, CLIENTS, CONSUMPTION, TOBACCO, EUROPE, SOCIAL COST, MENTAL-HEALTH, POLICIES COST, ECONOMIC COSTS, SUBSTANCE-ABUSE TREATMENT, ILLICIT DRUGS

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Chicago
Lievens, Delfine, Freya Vander Laenen, and Johan Christiaens. 2014. “Public Spending for Illegal Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Hospitals: An EU Cross-country Comparison.” Substance Abuse Treatment Prevention and Policy 9.
APA
Lievens, D., Vander Laenen, F., & Christiaens, J. (2014). Public spending for illegal drug and alcohol treatment in hospitals: an EU cross-country comparison. SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT PREVENTION AND POLICY, 9.
Vancouver
1.
Lievens D, Vander Laenen F, Christiaens J. Public spending for illegal drug and alcohol treatment in hospitals: an EU cross-country comparison. SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT PREVENTION AND POLICY. 2014;9.
MLA
Lievens, Delfine, Freya Vander Laenen, and Johan Christiaens. “Public Spending for Illegal Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Hospitals: An EU Cross-country Comparison.” SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT PREVENTION AND POLICY 9 (2014): n. pag. Print.
@article{5640807,
  abstract     = {Background: In view of the current economic crisis and the resulting austerity measures being implemented by governments across Europe, public expenditure for substance abuse treatment has increasingly become a subject of discussion. An EU cross-country comparison would allow an estimation of the total amount of public resources spent on substance abuse treatment, compare various substance abuse treatment funding options, and evaluate the division of expenditures between alcohol and illegal drugs. The purpose of this study is to estimate the public spending of EU countries for alcohol and illegal drug abuse treatment in hospitals.
 
Methods: Our study uses a uniform methodology in order to enable valid cross-national comparisons. Our data are drawn from the Eurostat database, which provides anno 2010 data on government spending for the treatment of illegal drug and alcohol abuse in 21 EU member states. The cross-country comparison is restricted to hospitals, since data were unavailable for other types of treatment providers. The systematic registration of in- and outpatient data is essential to monitoring public expenditures on substance abuse treatment using international databases.
 
Results: Total public spending for hospital-based treatment of illegal drug and alcohol abuse in the 21 EU member states studied is estimated to be 7.6 billion euros. Per capita expenditures for treatment of illegal drug abuse vary, ranging from 0.1 euros in Romania to 13 euros in Sweden. For alcohol abuse, that figure varied from 0.9 euros in Bulgaria to 24 euros in Austria. These results confirm other studies indicating that public expenditures for alcohol treatment exceed that for illegal drug treatment.
 
Conclusions: Multiple factors may influence the number of hospital days for alcohol or illegal substance abuse treatment, and expenditures fluctuate accordingly. In this respect, we found a strong correlation between gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and public expenditures per hospital day. The prevalence of problematic ( illegal or legal) drug use in a country did not correlate significantly with the number of hospital days. Other factors must be included in the analysis of public expenditures for the treatment of substance abuse, such as the drug policy in a given country and the social norms regarding alcohol consumption.},
  articleno    = {26},
  author       = {Lievens, Delfine and Vander Laenen, Freya and Christiaens, Johan},
  issn         = {1747-597X},
  journal      = {SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT PREVENTION AND POLICY},
  keywords     = {Europe,Public expenditure,Hospital based treatment,Public health,Substance abuse,Alcohol,Drugs,CLIENTS,CONSUMPTION,TOBACCO,EUROPE,SOCIAL COST,MENTAL-HEALTH,POLICIES COST,ECONOMIC COSTS,SUBSTANCE-ABUSE TREATMENT,ILLICIT DRUGS},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {15},
  title        = {Public spending for illegal drug and alcohol treatment in hospitals: an EU cross-country comparison},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1747-597X-9-26},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2014},
}

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