In 2017, addiction generated costs of CHF 7.86 billion in Switzerland. The breakdown shows that tobacco causes the highest costs followed by alcohol and illegal drugs. Research into behavioural addictions in gambling, shopping addiction, social media or cybersex is a recent discipline for which not a lot of data are available. The costs of gambling were CHF 221 million.

Health care expenditure, costs resulting from loss of productivity and criminality (criminal prosecution) are mainly responsible for the economic cost of addiction. Health care expenditure accounted for the largest share (2017: 49%). Direct loss of productivity due to addiction-related illnesses or due to the immediate forms of expression of addiction (e.g. due to absences from hangovers, intoxication at work) also accounted for a large share of costs (each 20%). The costs resulting from criminal prosecution and productivity losses from early death are lower.

Social insurances covered almost 3.2 billion francs of the economic cost of addiction, companies just over 3 billion and the state 1.6 billion.

This indicator is part of the Monitoring System Addiction and NCD (MonAM) of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Addiction has a negative impact on the health and quality of life of the person concerned. However, addiction is not only a public health problem. The consequences are also a burden to society and the economy. A better understanding of the costs of addiction makes it possible to make those concerned aware that prevention is worth it.

Definition

This indicator is based on the study from Fischer et al. (2020). In addition to the Swiss Health Survey, various data sources are used for estimates. Further details on the subject can be found in the original literature.

The indicator shows the economic cost of addiction. The following cost values are reported:

Direct costs

  • Health sector: inpatient costs (acute care, psychiatry, rehabilitation and care provision) plus outpatient costs (outpatient treatment and medication)
  • Criminal prosecution: Costs for police, custodial sentences and judicial system caused by addiction-related offences (material damage not included)

Indirect costs

  • Productivity losses mortality: Loss of paid and unpaid work due to a premature addiction-related death
  • Productivity losses morbidity: Costs through early retirement and absenteeism due to addiction-related illnesses and hospitalisations
  • Direct productivity losses: direct, addiction-related absenteeism (e.g. hangovers, gambling instead of work) and presenteeism (reduced performance through presence at the workplace under the influence of substances).

The costs reported here are lower than in previous estimates. This is because the productivity losses are calculated using the friction cost approach (FCA). The FCA assumes that a sick person can be replaced after a certain period of time by a new employee who was previously unemployed. Only the hours not worked during the friction period of 4 months are taken into account. Previous studies for Switzerland mainly use the human capital approach (HCA). Every hour not worked due to illness or death is taken into account. It is assumed that a person who is absent due to illness or addiction cannot be replaced at the workplace. The HCA tends to lead to an overestimation, while the FCA tends to lead to an underestimation of the actual indirect costs. However, the present study shows that the economic costs of addiction have remained relatively stable using the same calculation method (HCA).

The determination of the costs of the individual types of addiction follows a comparable methodological approach. Further explanations on the methodology can be found in the study Fischer et al. (2020).

Reference

  • Fischer, B. et al. (2020): Volkswirtschaftliche Kosten von Sucht. Polynomics, Olten: Study (in German)

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Last updated

04/09/2021