Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Opioid Crisis

Maggie Spankowski

Drugs Are Bad
Recently in the news there has been talk about an opioid crisis in America. According to, 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, “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, “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, “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,

How the Opioid Crisis Is Damaging the US Economy.” The Fiscal Times,

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” NIDA, 15 Sept. 2017,


  1. The use of opioids is a huge factor in the economy, I didn't realize just how much money was going towards those that use opioids whether it be for their rehab or the government spending on government workers. I realize that there are millions of deaths caused by the use of opioids, however drinking also causes a lot of deaths in the United States. Drunk driving continues to kill people and more money from the government continues to be fed to dealing with those that are abusing drinking and opioids. Although both the use of opioids and drinking can be very fatal and expensive for some, there's not much that the government can do to try and prevent people from abusing these drugs. Other than creating more laws that say these things are illegal, the government and economy are most likely at a loss as to how to deal with these scenarios.

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  3. It is shocking to see how much money is spent on opioids and the damage it has on the economy. Like you mentioned, if we weren’t spending $100-150 billion on the opioid crisis, schools across the nation or other government programs could use this money to better their program. In order to help solve this problem, more attention may need to be brought to this topic to make people aware of the damage of opioids on not only the economy but the people too.

  4. I think that it is really cool that you decided to write about this topic for your blog post. I think it will be interesting to see how legislators react and decide to allocate funds to alleviate the crisis, and typically save money on healthcare costs. I hope that Congress takes action on this and that eventually it is hopefully resolved in severity.

  5. The high spending on the opioid crisis has mainly been caused by our own medical system. The over prescription lead to addiction and gave many people issues. The only way to get out is to spend the money. The issue has escalated to a point where all that can be done is help the people. There is no easy way to reduce the spending without causing more of a problem.


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