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Opioid Crisis Cost $631 Billion to U.S. Economy Over Four Years

By: Shannon Persad December 9, 2019 no comments

Opioid Crisis Cost $631 Billion to U.S. Economy Over Four Years

The opioid epidemic that has affected people since the late 90s still ravages on today, and does not seem to be slowing down despite various efforts from government entities.

The Society of Actuaries (SOA) created a report, analyzing non-medical opioid use and reached a verdict that the opioid epidemic cost the U.S. economy $631 billion from 2015 to 2018.

There are several factors that contributed to this enormous cost, categorized by healthcare, premature mortality, criminal justice activities, assistance and education programs, and lost productivity.

Why Did the Opioid Epidemic Cost So Much?

SOA did a break down of where the costs went during the 2015 to 2018 time period. According to their report:

  • “Healthcare: Nearly one-third ($205 billion) of the estimated economic burden is attributable to excess healthcare spending for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD), infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NAS/NOWS), and for other family members of those with diagnosed OUD.
  • Premature Mortality: Mortality costs accounted for 40 percent ($253 billion) of the estimated economic impact, predominantly driven by lost lifetime earnings for those who died prematurely due to drug overdoses involving opioids.
  • Criminal Justice Activities: Costs associated with criminal justice activities, including police protection and legal adjudication activities, lost property due to crime, and correctional facility expenditures, totaled $39 billion, roughly 6 percent of the total cost from 2015 to 2018.
  • Child and Family Assistance and Education Programs: Costs associated with government-funded child and family assistance programs and education programs contributed another $39 billion over the four-year period.
  • Lost Productivity: Finally, lost productivity costs comprised the remaining 15 percent of total costs from 2015 through 2018, totaling $96 billion. Lost productivity costs are associated with absenteeism, reduced labor force participation, incarceration for opioid-related crimes, and employer costs for disability and workers’ compensation benefits to employees with opioid use disorder.”


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 400,00 have died from an opioid overdose. Overdose deaths continue to go, and the costs on the U.S. economy.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an opioid addiction, seek immediate help.

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