Economic Impact of Opioid Crisis is Astronomical

New data from the American Action Forum shows that the opioid crisis is slamming the US economy, costing tens of billions every year.

As reported by the Washington Post, nearly 1 million people were not working because of opioid addiction in 2015, the latest research to show that drug use is having a profound effect on the U.S. economy.

A study released Tuesday by the American Action Forum found 919,400 people between the ages of 25 to 54 were absent from the workforce because they were dependent on opioid drugs, a number that grew each year between 1999 and 2015.

The loss of employees and their productivity during that period cost the U.S. economy $702 billion, or just under $44 billion per year, the study calculated.

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Of course the opioid crisis is a major health issue. The overdose fatalities by themselves suggest how big of a problem it is,” said Ben Gitis, director of labor market policy at the American Action Forum, a right-leaning think tank. “But it’s also a major constraint on our economy.”

Gitis’s research builds off that of Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, who estimated in a paper last year that the increase in painkiller prescriptions could have caused 20 percent of the observed decline in workforce participation among men and 25 percent among women. Krueger noted that areas with the highest rate of opioid prescriptions registered huge drop-offs in the number of people in the workforce.

“It’s something we hear companies talk about all the time, not being able to have workers pass drug tests and being unable to simply get workers to apply because they know they won’t pass the drug test,” Gitis said. “It was really important that we get a sense of what the magnitude of this could be.”

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To learn more details about how the opioid crisis is impacting the US economy, please visit the Washington Post.

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