America’s Opioid Epidemic Has a $504 Billion Price Tag

The opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015—nearly 3 percent of the gross domestic product in that same year.

The United States is grappling with a widespread opioid epidemic. More than a thousand people a week die from opioid-related overdoses. The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming a drag on the national economy.

According to Route Fifty,

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers says the opioid epidemic cost the United States economy more than $504 billion in 2015.

The CEA estimate is more than six times higher than the most recent analysis that preceded it. The last time a study of the epidemic’s cost was examined, researchers found that the crisis had cost $79.9 billion. That study was carried out in 2016 and was based on 2013 data.

The CEA analysis is higher because, first, previous studies underestimated the economic cost of the loss of life from this epidemic, and second, those previous estimates did not account for the underreporting of opioid deaths.

The CEA analysis relied upon previous research which found that actual opioid-related death rates were 24 percent higher than what was being reported in official tallies. This underreporting is due in part to imprecise categories on death certificates and the difficulties associated with post-mortem toxicology screening.

Heroin and opioid deaths continue to skyrocket in Maryland and across the country. The crisis has been exacerbated by the deadly combination of heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

At the 2017 MACo Winter Conference, you can receive hands-on training on how to recognizing and responding to opioid overdose by administering naloxone as well as how to perform hands-only CPR. The “Learn to Save a Life” trainings, sponsored by the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO), are being offered Wednesday, December 6 from 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm and Thursday, December 7 from 12:45 pm – 1:45 pm.

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 6-8, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Hotel in Cambridge, Maryland. This year the conference’s theme is “The Power of Partnership.”

Learn more about MACo’s 2017 Winter Conference: