Opioid Overdoses: What They Cost Counties

For every three fatal [opioid] overdoses, a local government’s public safety costs can increase by an average of 1 percent, or $150,000, according to research from the data platform OpenGov.


In a collaboration with OpenGov, Governing has drawn upon data from five states considered on the “front lines” of the opioid crisis – including Maryland – to estimate the actual costs to counties of combating the opioid epidemic. In addition to each overdose raising costs by approximately $50,000, those costs do not start to plateau until three years later – the amount of time, the publication reports, it generally takes for a county to develop a response.

“During the first year or so, you’re hiring people to respond and you’re building more programs to get ahead of deaths and start to reduce them,” says Joseph Roualdes, head of communications for OpenGov. “Year three is when you see those programs start taking effect and the expenses plateau.”

It does not appear that the cost estimate includes indirect, “ripple effect” costs to counties, such as increased costs for social services for children, emergency worker burnout or costs of lost productivity due to addiction. OpenGov is investigating this next.

Read the article here.