Social costs of illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco in the European Union: A systematic review

Pablo Barrio*, Jillian Reynolds, Anna Garcia-Altes, Antoni Gual, Peter Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

Abstract

Issues. Drug use accounts for one of the main disease groups in Europe, with relevant consequences to society. There is an increasing need to evaluate the economic consequences of drug use in order to develop appropriate policies. Here, we review the social costs of illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco in the European Union. Approach. A systematic search of relevant databases was conducted. Grey literature and previous systematic reviews were also searched. Studies reporting on social costs of illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco were included. Methodology, cost components as well as costs were assessed from individual studies. To compare across studies, final costs were transformed to 2014 Euros. Key Findings. Forty-five studies reported in 43 papers met the inclusion criteria (11 for illegal drugs, 26 for alcohol and 8 for tobacco). While there was a constant inclusion of direct costs related to treatment of substance use and comorbidities, there was a high variability for the rest of cost components. Total costs showed also a great variability. Price per capita for the year 2014 ranged from (sic)0.38 to (sic)78 for illegal drugs, from (sic)26 to (sic)1500 for alcohol and from (sic)10.55 to (sic)391 for tobacco. Implications and Conclusions. Drug use imposes a heavy economic burden to Europe. However, given the high existing heterogeneity in methodologies, and in order to better assess the burden and thus to develop adequate policies, standardised methodological guidance is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-588
Number of pages11
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Volume36
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Keywords

  • social cost
  • addiction
  • illegal drug
  • tobacco
  • alcohol
  • ECONOMIC BURDEN
  • ILLICIT DRUGS
  • PUBLIC-EXPENDITURE
  • POLICIES COST
  • GLOBAL BURDEN
  • ILL HEALTH
  • SMOKING
  • CONSUMPTION
  • GERMANY
  • PRODUCTIVITY

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