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Economic analysis of costs and consequences of the treatment of drug misuse: 2-year outcome data from the National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS)


Christine Godfrey
Department of Health Sciences and Centre  for Health Economics
Area 2
Seebohm Rowntree Building
University of York
York YO10 5 DD


Aims  Some economic costs and consequences of drug misuse and treatment were investigated among clients recruited to the National Treatment Outcome Research Study (NTORS).

Design  This was a longitudinal prospective cohort design comprising

549 clients recruited from 54 residential and community treatment programmes: data were collected from interviews conducted at treatment intake, at 1 year and at 2-year follow-ups.

Measurements  Treatment costs included index and other drug treatments. Costs were estimated for use of health and social care services, criminal activity and the use of criminal justice resources. Costs were based upon self-reported data collected by structured face-to-face interviews combined with unit cost estimates taken from a variety of sources.

Findings  Addiction treatment was costed at £2.9 million in the 2 years prior to index treatment, and a further £4.4 million in the subsequent 2 years. Economic benefits were largely accounted for by reduced crime and victim costs of crime. Crime costs fell by £16.1 million during the first year, and by £11.3 million during the second year. Health-care costs were relatively small but approximately doubled during the course of the study. The ratio of consequences to net treatment investment varied from 18 : 1 to 9.5 : 1, depending on assumptions. This is likely to be a conservative estimate of the benefit–cost ratio because many potential benefits were not estimated.

Conclusions  The data showed clear economic benefits to treating drug misusers in England.