February 13, 2018 – The disease of addiction has no limitations and impacts everyone involved, not just the person struggling with dependency. Addiction also places a strain on the economy in the United States, but researchers know that solutions will address both the human toll on the crisis and the economic factors.
A recent report by Altarum, a nonprofit group that studies the health economy, calculates the financial cost of the opioid epidemic. Since 2001, the crisis has cost Americans more than a trillion dollars. The staggering amount doesn’t factor the emotional effect of addiction.
Fortunately, researchers’ recommendations for curbing the devastating impact is to bolster efforts to provide education on prevention and obtain treatment for those struggling with addiction. Suggestions include educating clinicians on the appropriate use of opioids and alternatives to treat pain, expanding access to addiction treatment and understanding the process to recovery.
NPR Illinois reports:
The greatest financial cost of the opioid epidemic, according to the report, is in lost earnings and productivity losses to employers. Early deaths and substance abuse disorders also take a toll on local, state and federal government through lost tax revenue.
These costs are rising. One reason for the increase, says Corey Rhyan, a senior research analyst with Altarum’s Center for Value and Health Care, is that more young people are being affected as the epidemic moves from prescription opioids to illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
“The average age at which opioid deaths are occurring — you’re looking at something in the late 30s or early 40s,” Rhyan says. “As a result, you’re looking at people that are in the prime of the productive years of their lives.”
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