The country’s opioid crisis is estimated to have taken an economic toll of more than $1 trillion since 2001 to and may go up half again by 2020, according to an analysis released by a nonprofit health researcher.
Annual cost of the crisis, in constant 2016 dollars, increased from $29.1 billion in 2001 to an estimated $115 billion in 2017. The growth rate between 2011 and 2016 was double the rate of the previous five years and is projected to increase again in 2017, according to the study by Altarum, a nonprofit health research and consulting firm in Michigan.
If action to curb the crisis is not taken and current use and mortality rates persist, the study predicts the cost of opioid misuse, substance use disorders, and premature mortality to exceed $500 billion over the next three years.
Opioid abuse and overdose deaths cost Ohio up to $8.8 billion in 2015, according to another report last year from the C. William Swank Program in Rural-Urban Policy at Ohio State University.
The Altarum study authors say the opioid crisis is hitting individuals and companies alike in the form of lost wages and lost productivity. The epidemic has also resulted in lost tax revenue for federal, state and local governments while forcing up spending on health care, social services, education and criminal justice.
The greatest cost comes from lost earnings and productivity from overdose deaths — estimated at $800,000 per person based on an average age of 41 among overdose victims. The number of opioid overdose deaths is estimated to have exceed 62,500 in 2017 based on data through June, according to the study.
Emergency room visits to treat and stabilize overdose patients after an overdose and other associated factors pushed health care costs related to the crisis above $215 billion during the study period.