In terms of costs per capita the opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States of America has hit West Virginia, Washington D.C., and New Hampshire the hardest by far, according to a new analysis released on Tuesday (03/20/18) by the American Enterprise Institute. This study breaks down costs identified by the White House Council of Economic Advisors, which estimated that the epidemic cost the country $504 billion in the year 2015 alone in mortality costs, healthcare costs, productivity losses and criminal justice costs
These estimations were derived from “local wages, health care costs and criminal justice costs along with variation in opioid-related death and addiction rates, and average age-adjusted value of statistical lives lost,” according to the report. Of the lower 48 states, including Washington D.C., West Virginia suffered the highest total per-capita burden by far at $4,378. Followed by Washington D.C. ($3,657); New Hampshire ($3,640); Ohio ($3,385) and Maryland ($3,337). In a stark contrast Iowa ($705), Mississippi ($703), Texas ($653), Montana ($596) and Nebraska ($394) experienced the lowest cost per capita, with Nebraska being the lowest in the country. Although, Alaska and Hawaii were excluded from the analysis on the account of difficulties in obtaining reliable and consistent data.
"The misuse and abuse of prescription opioids as well as the addiction and abuse of heroin in the United States imposes incredible hardship on those who are addicted, their families, communities, and the economy more broadly," the report concludes. "As overdose deaths and costs associated with opioid abuse rise, policymakers are increasingly looking for ways to stem the epidemic. Identifying the local per capita economic burdens should inform policymakers in this effort."
The working paper is to be published next week and it was released a day after President Donald Trump unveiled his administration’s most comprehensive agenda to combat the epidemic since he declared it an official public health emergency back in October 2017. The plan includes policies to increase the availability and accessibility of treatment, lowering the number or prescriptions and increased penalties for drug dealing, including minimum sentences and the death penalty in certain instances.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over 42,000 Americans died of opioid-related overdoses in 2016. The National Institutes on Drug Abuse estimate that an excess of 115 people die daily in America from using prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl. This death toll totals to more than the number of deaths related to guns, car crashes and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
How do you feel about the proposed increased penalties for drug dealing/trafficking? Particularly the mandatory minimum sentences and possible death penalty. Do you think that would have any significant effect on stemming the tide of the epidemic or would the results be trivial?
The Full Study Can Be Found Here: The Geographic Variation in the Cost of the Opioid Crisis