Current Treatment Market

Several factors are contributing to the rapid growth of the global market for substance abuse treatment. Growing patient awareness; widespread knowledge and education concerning substance abuse and addiction disorders; a higher treatment seeking rate; and governments prioritization of treatment and solutions for addiction disorder are positively impacting the growth of the global substance abuse treatment market.

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North America currently dominates the substance abuse treatment market due to various economic factors, an enhanced social awareness of addiction through public education, better reimbursement policies and a relatively large population with addiction issues compared to the rest of the world. “However, it is anticipated that Asia pacific will grow at the highest CAGR... Developing economic conditions and rising treatment awareness are expected to drive the market growth in Asia Pacific during forecast period 2017-2025.”[12]

The Current Model is Broken

Worldwide, substance abuse disorders are on the rise, causing a high financial and social cost, yet only a fraction of those suffering are being helped by the current model.

Current treatment models for addiction tend to be costly, ineffective, or both. When presented as the sole avenues for recovery the treatment options below do not provide the level of access and effectiveness required to surmount this ongoing crisis.

Key Market Motivators[13]

From a global perspective, the INCB produced a report stating that, “It is estimated that only one in six problem drug users worldwide, some 4.5 million people, receives the required treatment, at a global cost of about $35 billion annually.

  • Growing opioid crisis, fueled by the increasing number of opioid prescriptions written by physicians and a growing black market for opiates
  • Increased government intervention and encouragement to curb substance abuse in all countries are driving the growth of the substance abuse treatment market globally
  • Supply deficit for recovery services and treatment options, spurring private vendors to focus on innovation and technological advances in treatment

Treatment Gap[13]

Addiction disorders are on the rise all over the world, yet the current treatment model is proving deficient in addressing the current crisis and situation. Nation states, medical institutions and policy makers expend significant public funds on treatment options but are nonetheless struggling to alleviate the magnitude of the addiction crisis and address the lack of services and support for addiction disorders.

The US Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health confirms the deficiency stating that, “Substance use disorder treatment in the United States remains largely segregated from the rest of health care and serves only a fraction of those in need of treatment. Only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment.”[14]

Meanwhile the Results from the “2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” concluded that, “In 2016, an estimated 21.0 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment. Stated another way, about 1 in 13 people aged 12 or older (7.8 percent) needed substance use treatment.”[15]

The key word in the above report is “need”. The disparity between the increased need for treatment options and the currently available treatment options, leaves a lot of people suffering in silence

This market disparity also means there is a significant opportunity for the private sector to develop economically viable, innovative and scientifically backed solutions in order to evolve the treatment model beyond its current limitations.

Below are some of the conventional approaches to treating substance abuse disorders. Although each has shown efficacy, long-term success is typically limited and comes with a high cost:

Treatment Options

Below are some of the conventional approaches to treating substance abuse disorders. Although each has shown efficacy, long-term success is typically limited and comes with a high cost.

Drug treatment centers

The global Substance abuse treatment market was valued at US$ 13.22 Bn in 2016, and is expected to grow to US$ 27.91 Bn by 2025, expanding at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.7% from 2017 to 2025.[16]

The cost of attending a drug treatment centre can vary from free to thousands of dollars a day and the success rate can be as low as 5%, with a high probability of repeat visits. Free clinics typically service the lower socioeconomic populations while those with means can attend more upscale facilities, sometimes costing as much as $60,000 for a 60-90 day stay. Success is also difficult to define as post-treatment tracking is often limited to a short timeframe and is encumbered by data privacy issues.

There is also a broad spectrum of methodologies practiced at drug treatment centers, ranging from faith based, 12 step, and general wellness practices. Though there are instances of success, the lack of evidence based treatments results in unpredictable outcomes.

Medication assisted therapy

The pharmaceutical market for treatment of opioid dependence alone has a gross worth of approximately USD 2.8 billion and 1.4 million people currently receive medication assisted therapy.[17]

Current treatments are based around maintenance therapy with opioid agonists such as buprenorphine[18] and methadone, or an opioid antagonist like naltrexone. Though the efficacy of some of these treatments can range from 60% to 90%, that success is defined as abstinence from the opiate of harm, but often includes continued dependence on a chemical substance. The removal of drug dependence alone has a lower likelihood of success in terms of long-run patient outcome than treatment models that target the underlying emotional and psychological conditions that generally accompany substance use disorder.

12 Step Programs

The success rate of twelve step programs, while impossible to ascertain, has been placed at about a rate of 15% to 25% while many experts argue it is actually well below 10%.[19]

The cost of attending a drug treatment centre can vary from free to thousands of dollars a day and the success rate can be as low as 5%, with a high probability of repeat visits. Free clinics typically service the lower socioeconomic populations while those with means can attend more upscale facilities, sometimes costing as much as $60,000 for a 60-90 day stay. Success is also difficult to define as post-treatment tracking is often limited to a short timeframe and is encumbered by data privacy issues.

Abstinence based 12 step programs have served as the benchmark for recovery dating back to the early twentieth century. The effectiveness and success rate of 12 step programs is challenging to determine due to the insistence on anonymity, participation in a 12 twelve step program has been determined to increase the chances of successful recovery but the evidence is purely anecdotal as opposed to data driven.

That being said, the changing nature of addiction, the addition of powerful synthetic drugs, and cultural shifts have contributed to an addiction climate that requires additional mechanisms and avenues to increase the chance of long-term success for those seeking to recover their health and lives from the grasp of substance-related disorders.

A New Path Forward

To summarize, psychosocial interventions (e.g. self-help, therapy, 12 step programs, rehabilitation facilities) have shown efficacy in treating alcohol dependence; however, the long-term efficacy of these approaches is limited, with a majority of patients relapsing within the first year following a purely psychosocial based intervention.

There is growing evidence that combining traditional psychosocial recovery tactics with pharmacological treatments may be an effective method for treating alcohol dependence.

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