When we talk about the opioid epidemic in America, we talk a lot about the cost of human life. Over the last few years, the outbreak of heroin use has continued to rise. This kind of inflation has come at the price of tens of thousands of lives each year lost. 2017 is already considered the worst year for overdose deaths in American history. There is no way we could possibly put a value on the lives of those lost. We can’t give a consultation on the damage their deaths have done to families and communities across the country. But looking at how heroin and opioids have hurt the economy gives us another means to measure the true cost of the opioid crisis.
We already know we’ve gone well over budget with the failed War on Drugs. While dollar amounts will never compare to the devastation of losing loved ones, maybe it can add another layer of perspective to the issue. So, how has heroin addiction hurt the economy?
How Heroin Hurts the Economy
It is actually complicated trying to identify exactly how heroin addiction hurts the economy. There are a lot of unique elements to take into account. For example, many have suspected that even the incredibly high rates of overdose death recorded may actually be under-reported and misclassified.
One study from a few years ago highlights several big-picture ways heroin addiction hurts our economy. This study assesses three “invisible costs” of heroin addiction most people don’t recognize.
We will start with the one that seems pretty obvious. Although, the cumulative effect of heroin addiction on the medical treatment infrastructure is more complex than you might expect.
Utilizing data from the mid-90s, the study estimates that heroin addiction treatment amounted to $5 billion dollars. That was so long ago, it is incredibly easy to predict that tab has shot up drastically in the last decade and a half as heroin use has consistently skyrocketed.
Another thing most people don’t realize is that the types of addiction treatment people have access to will depend on what their insurance will pay for. Because insurance companies are often more interested in keeping costs down than effectively treating addiction, it is safe to bet that a lot of that humble estimation of $5 billion was probably wasted on lackluster facilities and regimens that did not offer innovative and effective treatment. Part of curbing these costs is about support programs that do offer quality care, including comprehensive residential treatment.
According to health research and consulting institute Altarum, healthcare costs alone related to the opioid crisis reached $217.5 billion between 2001 and 2017.
Loss of Productivity
Putting a value on something you don’t have is pretty difficult to do. It is hard to adequately propose a price tag for an amount of productivity you can’t measure, but in order to truly grasp how heroin addiction hurts the economy, you cannot ignore the loss of productivity.
One estimate from researches says that the economy missed out on $11.5 billion because of people either:
- Unable to work
- Diverting labor towards addressing heroin addiction
But this is just from a guess of labor costs. It is impossible to quantify all the potential that never becomes realized due to heroin and opioid overdose death. Many people who use drugs and actually do recover end up contributing so much to their communities. So one can hardly imagine what it would mean if the over 72,000 people who died in 2017 from drug overdose were still alive today and what difference they would be able to make.
On one hand, the United States criminal justice system does provide jobs to millions of Americans. However, the public typically funds these systems. Therefore, the taxpayer is the one paying to put people with heroin addiction through the criminal justice system.
Researchers estimate that criminal activity, adjudication, and incarceration in connection to heroin costs the economy approximately $5.2 billion. Luckily, there is a new trend across the country of police helping addicts get treatment through PAARI programs.
It All Adds Up
When we add up the estimates from the three categories the bill comes out to a staggering $21.7 billion dollars. But things have continued to get worse since that study was published. Another analysis from earlier this year estimates that the opioid crisis cost the country $115 billion in 2017. The organization also claims the economic toll of the opioid crisis between 2001 and 2017 is over $1 trillion.
The economic fallout of heroin and opioids is on track to be over $500 billion from 2018 to 2020!
According to Altarum, the greatest impact on the economy as a result of heroin addiction is the loss of earnings and productivity. Based on the average age of overdose victims, around 41 years old, that cost is estimated at about $800,000 per person.
When we look at all those billions and trillions, it is easy to see how heroin addiction hurts the economy. It all adds up to a truly tragic reality we face as a nation. However, the opportunity to put some of this money toward other endeavors should be a huge financial incentive that our leaders to make some much-needed changes. It’s just one more reason we should be taking meaningful actions to prevent heroin addiction and provide safe and effective heroin detox and holistic treatment options.
In the end, no amount of money can replace those who lose their lives to addiction. We can look at how these tragedies translate to transactions, but nothing is more valuable than helping those who suffer find the path toward a better future. True happiness and lasting recovery are absolutely priceless.
Palm Healthcare Company believes in providing innovative and effective addiction treatment for anyone battling with addiction. Our professional team of certified specialists offers comprehensive care, and our missing is to heal each individual’s mind, body, and spirit. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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America knows all too well the devastation of opioid addiction. With an overdose outbreak that has been progressively damaging and related death rates becoming increasingly alarming, we have reached new depths of drug-induced desperation. Therefore, the news from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis is not all that shocking. The panel charged with examining the nation’s opioid epidemic is now urging the President to declare a national public health emergency to combat the ongoing crisis.
When we look at the history of American presidents announcing a ‘state of emergency’ it typically has to do with national security, foreign policy and war, or natural disasters and viral illness. So, to put the issue of addiction up next to these drastic calls to action might just bring a new level of intensity to battling opioid addiction in America.
American overdose deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999. From 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died of drug overdoses. The majority of these overdose deaths have opioids involved.
In America, drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.
Opioid Commission Calls for Action
The Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was enlisted as the chair of the opioid commission back in March. The opioid commission also includes:
- Democrat Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina
- Former Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island
- Republican Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts
At the time the commission was created Chris Christie said the idea behind the administration’s new approach to fighting addiction would focus a lot on assisting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This week the opioid commission’s statement calling for the President’s immediate action states:
“Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it. The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency.”
While insisting that the administration put forth an emergency declaration, the specially appointed opioid commission said that Trump is the-
“-only person who can bring this type of intensity to the emergency and we believe you have the will to do so and to do so immediately.”
The opioid commission was deliberate in the details, acknowledging that with 142 Americans dying every day from drug overdoses-
“America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”
When you think about it in this context, the statistics become even more startling and horrifying. The fact that so many men, women and even children in America are losing their lives to drugs like heroin and prescription pain medication. The opioid commission went on to say:
“Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life,”
“It would also awaken every American to this simple fact: If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”
In the last few months there has been some waves of criticism against the opioid commission after missing two deadlines to release this report in June and July. Now that the report is finally here, what can be done to address the concerns the opioid commission brings with it?
Will the White House Take Action?
According to initial reports the White House intends to “immediately” review the recommendations of the opioid commission. In the statement from the White House:
“The opioid crisis is a tragedy that has been harming America’s communities for far too long. We appreciate the Commission’s hard work on this important interim report. We will immediately begin reviewing its recommendations, and eagerly await its final report.”
The final report from the opioid commission is expected to be submitted during October. Still, many are hoping the Trump administration does not wait that long to start planning for a response.
The opioid commission made many recommendations in the interim report for efforts to curb the opioid epidemic and the increasingly high death rates. Those recommendations include:
- Rapidly increase treatment capacity for those who need substance abuse help
- Establish and fund better access to medication-assisted treatment programs
- Make sure that health care providers are aware of the potential for misuse and abuse of prescription opioids by enhancing prevention efforts at medical and dental schools
- Equipping all law enforcement in the United States with naloxone to save lives
Naloxone is the opioid overdose antidote used by first responders to save people overdose victims. So far access to Naloxone and Narcan, the name brand, has expanded, but many think not nearly enough.
With the fight for healthcare in Congress seeming to hit every rough patch possible on the road to settling on legislation, people are already worried about how coverage may or may not change for tens of millions of Americans. So the concern for how to face a growing addiction problem while simultaneously afflicted with a potential healthcare crisis is very real for a lot of people.
Time will tell if the Trump administration acts on the suggestion to declare a state of emergency to call more action toward the opioid epidemic. And if they do declare it, what will change?
Palm Healthcare Company Offering Holistic Health
While Palm Healthcare Company is not qualified to fix all the problems in politics, we do believe in providing quality care to as many men and women struggling as possible. Palm Healthcare Company facilities create a safe, comfortable and effective environment to experience powerful and life-changing courses and treatments focused on holistic health.
While the opioid epidemic may not be an easy issue to solve, Palm Healthcare Company believes in helping those who have suffered from addiction to opioids and/or other drugs find a new way and a second chance. With medical detox, personalized inpatient and outpatient treatment options and aftercare opportunities such as Recovery Coaching, Palm Healthcare Company wants to support every part of your journey.
Overcoming the opioid epidemic means helping those who have suffered heal.
Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398
Recently I came across an article with a title essentially warning people not to send their family members to Florida for drug and alcohol treatment. The interviews argue that high rates of overdose should justify officials urging people in other states not to send their kids to treatment in the area. However, the article also acknowledges that “South Florida has long been a destination for world-class addiction treatment” and includes a quote from Palm Beach County League of Cities member Andy Amoroso stating:
“Stop sending your children and your loved ones to South Florida,”
I think there is a real problem with this kind of statement though…
It ignores the fact that most people looking for recovery come from states with much worse issues of overdose crisis than South Florida.
To be clear, Florida has seen a spike in drug related issues, but guess what… so has basically everywhere in America! We are in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic all across this nation.
For example, let’s talk about where I came from. In 2014 I wrote about how my home state of Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths. Ohio now also has the highest rates of heroin related deaths.
1 out of every 9 heroin deaths… happens in Ohio!
Dayton, Ohio is number 1 in the country by many reports for drug overdoses. Today, Dayton is quickly becoming known as the heroin capitol of America.
I have lived in Florida for around 4 years after coming to Delray Beach to get sober. I am an active member of a vast recovery community in the Palm Beach County area, and I would never have gotten the chance to do all the amazing and life changing work I am privileged to do if no one had sent me to South Florida to get help. In all likelihood, I would be dead.
Crunching the Country’s Overdose Numbers
There is no denying that Florida is typically in the top 5 rankings when it comes to total overdose numbers. However, there should also be some context to really show the difference between how other states are being affected. To get a little perspective, I want to run down some numbers.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation compiled data from every state in order to show some details on the opioid overdose crisis. In those numbers they discovered the top 3 states in opioid overdose deaths for 2014 were:
Ohio- 2,106 opioid overdoses- which was 7.4% of nationwide deaths
California- 2,024 deaths
New York- 1,739 deaths
Out of 10,584 nationwide heroin related deaths in 2014, 1,208 were in Ohio. That is 11.4% of the countries heroin deaths in a state with a population a fraction of the size of California’s, New York’s and Florida’s.
In 2015 the top 3 states for overall overdoses were:
In 2015 Ohio’s overdose death rates jumped again to 3,310. In 2016 those numbers are again expected to have skyrocketed to well over 4,000.
While we should acknowledge that the entire state of Florida had around 3,228 overall overdose deaths in 2015, Florida actually had less deaths per 100,000 people compared to 23 other states! These numbers include the top 5:
West Virginia- 41.5 per 100,000 people
New Hampshire- 34.3 per 100,000 people
Kentucky- 29.9 per 100,000 people
Ohio- 29.9 per 100,000 people
Rhode Island- 28.2 per 100,000 people
As well as:
So while Florida may be experiencing high rates of overdose, we need to see that dozens of states are seeing a much higher percent of their population be killed by drugs. Some states have less than half the population Florida does, but are still suffering with tragically high percentages of their population dying from overdose. Those people who want help deserve access to that same “world-class addiction treatment” that South Florida has to offer. For several years, countless families across the U.S. have suffered while the resources and the community in South Florida has helped to save thousands of men and women who needed a little hope and a second chance.
Prescription Drug Problem
In the Midwest, the problem with prescription drug abuse is an extremely distressing element of the opioid crisis. In 12 states, the number of opioid painkiller prescriptions actually exceeds the number of residents living in those states! This includes:
Out of the 1.3 million people living in this state, there were 13 million doses of opioids dispensed in a 3 month period!
Just in case you haven’t seen the news in the past few years, prescription drugs have been one of the largest contributing factors to the current opioid epidemic and the rise in heroin addiction.
The reality is professional and effective treatment programs in South Florida save the lives of countless people from all over the United States. The positive impact on the world is immeasurable. The reason so many people travel here for treatment is not just the fact that there are beaches and sun in Florida (Although they are amazing). They travel because so many of the states being hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic are states that have limited resources when it comes to comprehensive drug addiction treatment.
We aren’t traveling here to bring drugs Florida had never heard of before. We’re trying to escape the familiar and fatal atmosphere we were stuck in for so long. We take this drastic step in a desperate time because we want to believe the help is out there.
Some would still argue that a large number of treatment centers creates a problem with corruption within the industry itself. One can’t argue with some of the stories we read, but if that’s the case maybe instead of turning people away we should be educating people on the most important things to look for in a legitimate treatment program. We should encourage families to seek out qualified and established addiction specialists. Instead of insisting they shouldn’t trust the industry; we should be telling them to look for the accredited addiction specialists who have earned a respected reputation through their record in service and their certifications. Let’s celebrate the treatment providers who do make a difference instead of signing on for whole-sale condemnation.
At the very least, lets teach them to make sure a treatment facility in South Florida is approved by:
The Joint Commission is a United States-based nonprofit organization that accredits more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the U.S.
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
The DCF is a state agency providing social services to children, adults, refugees, domestic violence victims and a number of other groups.
To learn more about how to find an accredited and effective treatment program, download our FREE e-book
“5 Critical Mistakes When Picking a Treatment Center and How to Avoid Them”
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No matter where we live we should never turn people away from our community for help. We should provide a platform for awareness. It is critical that addicts and their families know what makes effective treatment programs important. Florida should always be proud of the strength of its recovery community.
We are in this together
Accurate and detailed data for overdose death rates 2016 is not yet available. Yet it is estimated that almost 60,000 Americans died last year from drug overdose. Some experts say over 2 million Americans are suspected to be opioid dependent currently, and that overdose death rates in 2017 are only going to get worse.
Of course, it is understandable that people are concerned about the strain that addiction and overdose puts on their communities, but there is something we cannot, as Americans, forget… we are in this together. In the article I mentioned previously, one of the individuals quoted spoke of people struggling with addiction like we are all inconvenient intruders who have no place in their neighborhood. Thankfully, this is not the experience many of us live with.
I have to say it again… We are in this together.
We are all citizens of the same free country fighting the same fight. Even more important, we are all human beings. Every one of us is free to seek something that can save us. I often believe I would have never had this chance if I had not come to South Florida. I didn’t know what was possible… and thankfully nobody told me not to come looking for it. Nobody told me I wasn’t welcome.
This isn’t just about South Florida; any community with addiction treatment programs and a recovery community should know, we get it. We understand how it can seem a little scary when you think your neighborhood is changing. It’s easier to say “as long as it’s happening over there” until “over there” becomes everywhere.
At the height of the opioid epidemic in America, it is certainly not the time to hide the welcome mat and use fear to scare people away. It is time to make our voices louder and unify the recovery community to show more people that recovery is possible. Until more treatment opportunities are advocated for across the country, we will use every resources we have to preserve and protect the lives of those who are suffering. South Florida is still a great place for addiction treatment. If no one has told you yet, you are welcome here!
Palm Healthcare Company has been serving the South Florida community for 20 years, now with multiple specialized facilities and innovative holistic treatment programs designed to help create lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now. We want to help. You are not alone.
CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398