US spends about $80B annually on opioid epidemic: 5 takeaways

The abuse and misuse of opioids costs the U.S. about $78.5 billion a year for healthcare and addiction treatment costs, lost work productivity and criminal justice system expenses, according to a study published in Medical Care.

Researchers at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control examined 2013 data from National Vital Statistics System, National Survey of Drug Use and Health and Truven Health MarketScan Research, along with cost estimates from the U.S. Department of Justice to discover the financial burden of opioid abuse.

Here are five takeaways.

  1. Almost 2 million people in the U.S. meet criteria for opioid abuse or dependence and 16,000 deaths were tied to drug overdoses in 2013.

  1. Healthcare and substance abuse treatment expenses accounted for about $29 billion of the total $78.5 billion spent on the opioid epidemic.

  1. Fatal overdoses represent about $20 billion in both healthcare and lost productivity costs.

  1. Non-fatal abuse and overdose cases cost about $20 billion in terms of lost productivity.

  1. Criminal justice-related opioid abuse costs were about $7.7 billion.


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