Drugs Are Bad
Recently in the news there has been talk about an opioid crisis in America. According to drugabuse.gov, there were an estimated 64,000 drug related deaths in America in 2016, and death rate relating to drugs has almost doubled in the last decade. However the number of deaths is just a small portion of drug abusers actively using illegal drugs in America. So, it’s not surprising that the growing use of drugs in America is costing the economy billions in healthcare, treatment programs, and labor loss.
The biggest expense as a result of the opioid crisis is in the healthcare industry. According to georgiadrugdetox.com, “In 2011, a study by Pain Medicine found that an estimated twenty-five billion dollars had been spent in health-care costs related to opioid abuse -- considering the 1000% rise in insurance claims for opioid abuse treatment since then, you can bet that it’s a lot more now…. Insurance companies commonly value a single human life at five million dollars. If we multiply that five million by a conservative estimate of twenty to thirty thousand opioid related deaths a year then we can see that the opioid abuse is costing the economy an additional hundred to a hundred fifty billion dollars a year.” Not only does the use of opioids effect those directly using them, but it also costs the average, non-drug using citizen billions of dollars.
Similarly, according to georgiedrugdetox.com, “In 2011 an estimated $5.1 billion dollars had been spent by the criminal-justice-system in combating the opioid epidemic-- a huge sum that doesn’t take into account the last six years of rising opioid abuse.” This money went towards rehab programs, the creation of drug-task forces, and strengthening other resource to help people quit their drug habits. If we wouldn’t be experiencing this opioid crisis, that money could’ve gone to other important aspects of the criminal justice system such as bettering education for law enforcement, or increasing wages for employees.
In addition to a hefty healthcare cost, increasing rates of drug use also has the potential to damage local and state economies. According to fiscaltimes.com, “The labor force participation rate, the number of people working or actively looking for work, has fallen since the Great Recession and has stagnated near 63 percent for the last four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This stagnation comes despite monthly job reports, such as the one due Friday, showing a steady pace of job creation and a decline in unemployment” (Cheng). A possible explanation for this is the increasing severity of the opioid crisis. As the use of drugs increases, employers are finding it more and more difficult to find employees, as they are either not able to pass drug tests, or are unreliable as a result of their drug habit. This can cause companies to be short-staffed and possible cause them to downsize or close because of lack of employees.
In conclusion, not only are drugs bad for people’s health and wellbeing, but they are also bad for the economy, costing it billions of dollars. In the last decade the amount of opioid addicted people has skyrocketed, and continues to cause thousands of deaths every year. As a result of this, the three largest expenses of the opioid outbreak are healthcare, the criminal justice system, and labor forces which amounts to billions of dollars spent to combat that increasing drug use.
“How The Opioid Epidemic Affects the Economy.” Georgia Drug Detox, 3 Oct. 2017, georgiadrugdetox.com/resources/opioid-epidemic-affects-economy/.
How the Opioid Crisis Is Damaging the US Economy.” The Fiscal Times, www.thefiscaltimes.com/2017/07/06/How-Opioid-Crisis-Damaging-US-Economy.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” NIDA, 15 Sept. 2017, www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rate