U.S. Economy Loses $500 Billion in Economic Output Due to Opioid Crisis

Over the past several years, the opioid epidemic has devastated many parts of the country. According to Reuters, the crisis cost the U.S. economy approximately $504 billion in 2015. The statistics were made public by economists working in the White House. A report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors shows that 2.6 percent of country’s gross domestic product came from costs related to the opioid crisis.

In October, Donald Trump called the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. However, Democrats called Trump’s statements “meaningless” if there is no additional money added to help fight the epidemic. Republicans believe Trump’s statement is important in the fight against the epidemic.

The Trump White House could use the report from the council to request more funds to help fight the problem. The argument to persuade Republicans for more government spending is the economic impact the opioid crisis is having is far greater than additional spending. Republicans have historically been hesitant to increase spending by the federal government.

In 2015, there were 33,000 deaths related to the opioid epidemic, according to the Council of Economic Advisors. Those deaths led to lost economic output, which is estimated between $221 billion and $440 billion. Additionally, there were an estimated 2.4 million Americans addicted to opioids in 2015, which cost the United States another $72 billion in economic output.

The costs include medical treatment, expenses in the criminal justice system and a drop in economic productivity. The loss in productivity is a result of Americans struggling with addiction not being able to find or hold meaningful jobs.

The majority of drug overdoses and non-fatal drug addiction is mostly from prescription painkillers. People who are addicted to painkillers often turn to street-grade heroin if their doctors no longer give them prescriptions. According to Reuters Legal, almost 100 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses.

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