Open Access Research article

Cost of specialized addiction treatment of clients with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Canada

Svetlana Popova1234*, Shannon Lange12, Larry Burd5, Karen Urbanoski12 and Jürgen Rehm1246

Author affiliations

1 1Social and Epidemiological Research Department, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell St., Toronto, ON M5S 2S1, Canada

2 2Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College St, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada

3 3Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1V4, Canada

4 4Institute of Medicine, University of Toronto, 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada

5 5Department of Pediatrics, University of North Dakota School of Medicine, 501 North Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, ND 58203, USA

6 6Epidemiological Research Unit, Klinische Psychologie and Psychotherapie, Technische Universität Dresden, Chemnitzer Str 46, Dresden D-01187, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:570  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-570

Published: 11 June 2013



Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) constitute a special population that may be at particularly high risk for substance use. The purpose of the current study was to estimate the utilization of specialized addiction treatment services (SATS) and the associated cost, as a part of the total cost of health care associated with FASD in Canada.


The current study was a modeling study. Data on SATS by lifetime mental disorder status were obtained from the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Information System (DATIS) in Ontario, Canada for 2010/11. The number of clients with FASD who received SATS in Ontario in 2010/11 was estimated, assuming that approximately 37% (confidence interval: 21.6%-54.5%) of individuals with FASD abuse or are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs and that their utilization rate of SATS is the same as those for people with a lifetime mental disorder. The data from DATIS was then extrapolated to the total Canadian population.


The cost of SATS for clients with FASD in Canada in 2010/11 ranged from $1.65 million Canadian dollars (CND) to $3.59 million CND, based on 5,526 outpatient visits and 9,529 resident days. When the sensitivity analysis was performed the cost of SATS ranged from $979 thousand CND to $5.34 million CND.


Special attention must be paid to at-risk groups of individuals such as those with FASD, in order to reduce the likelihood of the development of co-morbid substance abuse problems, and thus, reducing the overall burden on Canadian society.

Fetal alcohol syndrome; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder; Addiction; Specialized treatment; Utilization; Cost; Canada