Alcohol use disorders are associated with high social welfare and health care costs — but what causes them? A new Finnish study looks at the magnitude and reasons behind the economic burden alcohol use disorders have on society.
Earlier studies have shown that alcohol use disorders lead to various health and social problems, which cause an increase in the need and use of various services. However, the magnitude and distribution of the related costs have not been studied before.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland used a machine learning technique that is based on a Bayesian network model to analyse causal relationships between different risk factors and the costs associated with them. The analysis included a total of 16 risk factors, including socioeconomic variables such as age, gender, marital status, unemployment status, and social problems like homelessness, illicit drug use, criminal record, and drunk driving. The researchers also looked at what happens when a patient goes into remission, i.e., stops drinking altogether.