White House: Opioid Crisis Costs $504 Billion – But What’s The Real Cost?

by: The Knowledge Group

December 18, 2017


More than 100 people in die each day in the United States from painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said the toll from the opioid crisis sucked $504 billion (2.8%) from the 2015 GDP, considering the epidemic of deaths that year, plus treatment, use of the courts, and lost productivity for 2.4 million addicted people.

The Other Victims: Children

Many foster children and babies born addicted are victims of the ever-worsening U.S. opioid crisis. Some of the affected children have seen their parents dead from an overdose. The toll on loving grandparents, social workers, and on the juvenile court system, whose lawyers and judges remove children from their homes when necessary, is also massive.

And the epidemic’s impacts will multiply as children become adults. This is an intergenerational problem.

Unexpected overdoses suffered by police and children have shocked communities, and led states to respond with harsh anti-opioid laws. Harrowing cases of abuse, neglect, and even filicide underscore the urgency of finding effective answers.

Are Harsher Laws the Best Answer?

Some say no—and insist that government agencies and healthcare providers collaborate to help individuals and families impacted by addiction.

President Donald Trump this year declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. This, plus the emergency’s tremendous costs, puts pressure on Congress to fund strategies.

How could the funding be most effectively directed? Improved availability of buprenorphine and methadone may cut the death rate significantly, research shows.

Those arguing for easing restrictions point to France. More than 20 years ago, the country began making these substitution treatments available as a healthcare-based response to heroin addiction, and experienced significant success in reducing fatal overdoses.

While such initiatives cannot solve a burgeoning, intergenerational problem entirely, they can, proponents explain, lead people to seek professional care instead of mistrusting it.