This poster was presented at the 30th annual Psych Congress, held Sept. 16-19, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Background: Opioid overdose, abuse and dependence rates continue to grow, although the proportion of patients receiving treatment continues to be low. Currently, for every 1 person treated for substance use disorders (SUDs) in specialty drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers in the United States, approximately 18 more are in need of treatment. Our objective was to estimate the potential societal impact of doubling the treatment rate.
Methods: The SUD treatment rate (10.8%) and prevalence of opioid use disorder (OUD) (approximately 2.5 million persons in the US in 2015) were obtained from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data. Societal costs included health care, substance abuse treatment, criminal justice and lost productivity as outlined by Florence et al (Medical Care 2016). All costs were inflated to 2015 (5% annual inflation rate). Fatal costs were excluded. Doubling the treatment rate was assumed to decrease the health care, criminal justice and lost productivity by 5% and 10%.
Results: Total nonfatal costs were estimated at $121.2M with 31% spent on health care and 3% on substance abuse treatment. A 21.6% treatment rate resulted in a 2-6% overall decrease in the total nonfatal costs ($113.5M to $119.4) despite doubling spend for substance abuse treatment from $4.0M to $8.0M.
Conclusion: The majority of patients with opioid use disorder do not receive treatment. Efforts to increase spending on substance abuse treatment could begin to close this treatment gap and might lower the overall socioeconomic burden of opioid use disorders.