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.