The opioid epidemic has cost the American government in excesses of a trillion US dollars since the beginning of the 21st century in 2001. This is according to a new study that has been released by US Bureau of Statistics and that the value may extrapolate by more than half a billion dollars in the next 36 months. The report was prepared and compiled by a nonprofit organization that does health economy analysis known as Altarum. The organization examined the rate of mortality data by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) through to last year June.
According to the report, the most significant financial cost of the opioid epidemic is productivity losses and lost wages to employers. Disorders that are directly related to substance abuse and early deaths have also taken a toll into the federal, state and local authorities in terms of lost taxes and revenue. The costs continue to rise as years go by despite the efforts that have been put in by federal and state authorities including the DEA to curb on substance trafficking and abuse.
A senior researching analyst who work for Altarum’s Center for Healthcare and Value, Corey Rhyan says that one of the contributing factors to the increase is that there is a shift from prescription opioid drugs to illicit drugs like fentanyl and heroin which is affecting more and more of the young populace in the United States. Rhyan added that the average age of the people who were losing their lives as a result of the opioid addiction was at the ages of the late 30s and early 40s.
As anyone can tell, these are the most productive people in any economy and losing them to addiction is a huge blow not only to society but to the economy at large. Since 2001, there has been over $215 billion that has gone to healthcare expenses to treat conditions related to opioid addiction which is quite a significant sum according to the report. The healthcare expenses stem majorly from ambulance costs, emergency room visits and the use of naloxone. Naloxone is a drug to reverse the effect and stop the effects of a drug overdose as a result of opioids. The survey also suggests that the rate of growth of the opioid epidemic rose at an exponential rate between 2011 and 2016 and unless the government takes on a comprehensive response that is sustainable for the long-term, the epidemic is set to continue.