Alcohol consumption, alcohol dependence, and related mortality in Italy in 2004: effects of treatment-based interventions on alcohol dependence
Background: The tradition of consuming alcohol has long been a part of Italian culture and is responsible for a large health burden. This burden may be reduced with effective interventions, one of the more important of which is treatment for Alcohol Dependence (AD). The aim of this article is to estimate the burden of disease in Italy attributable to alcohol consumption, heavy alcohol consumption, and AD. An additional aim of this paper is to examine the effects of increasing the coverage of treatment for AD on the alcohol-attributable burden of disease. Methods: Alcohol-attributable deaths and the effects of treatments for AD were estimated using alcohol-attributable fractions and simulations. Deaths, potential years of life lost, years lived with disability, and disability adjusted life years lost were obtained for 2004 for Italy and for the European Union from the Global Burden of Disease study. Alcohol consumption data were obtained from the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health. The prevalences of current drinkers, former drinkers, and lifetime abstainers were obtained from the GENder Alcohol and Culture International Study. The prevalence of AD was obtained from the World Mental Health Survey. Alcohol relative risks were obtained from various meta-analyses. Results: 5,320 deaths (1,530 female deaths; 3,790 male deaths) or 5.9% of all deaths (4.9% of all female deaths; 6.3% of all male deaths) of people 15 to 64 years of age were estimated to be alcohol-attributable. Of these deaths, 74.5% (61.3% for females; 79.8% for males) were attributable to heavy drinking, and 26.9% (25.6% for females; 27.5% for males) were attributable to AD. Increasing pharmacological AD treatment coverage to 40% would result in an estimated reduction of 3.3% (50 deaths/year) of all female and 7.6% (287 deaths/year) of all male alcohol-attributable deaths. Conclusions: Alcohol was responsible for a large proportion of the burden of disease in Italy in 2004. Increasing treatment coverage for AD in Italy could reduce that country's alcohol-attributable burden of disease.