Healthcare savings and alcohol and drug abuse treatment: Saving lives and money

Alcohol and drug abuse treatment can save health care moneyA recent paper put out by an initiative called Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) talks about some of the cost savings benefits that go along with alcohol and drug abuse treatment. The numbers refer to current treatment methods, success rates, etc., so the savings should only go up as we become more successful and introduce longer, more chronic treatment methods (as I discussed here).

  • 2.3 Million hospital stays in 2004 we directly related to substance disorders.
  • Total medical costs were reduced 26 percent among patients that received addiction treatment.
  • Brief counseling alone allowed for a reduction of 20 percent in emergency department visits and 37 percent in days of hospitalization among a group of high-risk alcoholics.
  • Addiction contributes directly to many off our most pressing health issues: heart disease,
    cancer and stroke.
  • In one study, outpatient addiction treatment reduced total medical costs by 26%, inpatient health-care costs by 35%, and emergency room by 36% !!!

You can find the rest of the report on CATG’s website, but I think you’ll agree that alcohol and drug abuse treatment needs to be part of the discussion in our ongoing health-care debate. We can save billions of dollars and millions of life every year by making appropriate, effective, addiction treatment part of the reality of ongoing health care in America.

It’s the responsible thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.

More CPDD Addiction research: Addiction, exercise, recovery!

Okay, this is probably the last addiction research update I will give focusing on the Reno conference. The rest of the stuff I learned will be incorporated into future posts.

I’ve written before about the relationship between exercise and recovery (see here) and I will surely write more since for me, it was a big part of the equation.

two separate studies at CPDD reaffirmed my belief that exercise can be a very useful tool in addiction recovery.

The first study, conducted in humans, examined the effect of incorporating an extensive exercise routine into a residential, as well as intensive outpatient, addiction treatment program. Their findings showed improved outcomes for participants in the short, as well as long run. These included length of sobriety, subjective assessment of well being, and more. In talking to the researcher, she seemed to believe that at least part of the effect was due to the relief of cravings achieved by allowing patients to focus on something that took effort, rather than simply sitting around.

The second, and to¬†my mind even more interesting, study examined the effect of exercise on cocaine self-administration in rats. Researchers assigned half of their rats to a cage that had a running wheel while the others were assigned to a regular cage. the rats with the running wheel used the device to run an average of 12 kilometers a day! After a week of simply resting in their cages, when transferred to another cage for 2 hours a day, the rats who had the wheel in their cage took less than half as much cocaine as the rats who didn’t have a wheel. the “wheel-rats” were also found to run less after they began the cocaine portion of the experiment, but their cocaine-taking never got near that of the non-exercising rats. It seems that having the exercise did something to reduce the reinforcing power of cocaine.

I have a feeling that future research will show that these finding hold true for other drugs (like crystal meth, heroin, marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol) and possibly even for behavioral addictions like food addiction, gambling, and sex addiction.

All in all, research seems to be supporting the notion that exercise can play a significant role in recovery from addiction. Whether it be for boredom relief or an actual internal change in the motivating power of drugs, it looks to me as if Addiction + Exercise = Recovery !