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The Cost of the Opioid Epidemic

A woman sits on a swing watching the sun set, with an empty swing next to her.
The cost of the opioid epidemic, in terms of both human life and the economy, have been staggering.


A trillion dollars is a hard number to wrap your head around.

If you were to divide it by every household in America, it would cost each family $9,000.

And, yet, that’s how much the opioid crisis has cost the United States from 2001 to 2017, according to Altarum, a nonprofit group that studies the health of the economy. The greatest financial toll has been in lost earnings and productivity losses to employers.

What’s more, the epidemic is expected to cost us another $500 billion by 2020.

The Highest Cost of All

The financial loss is overshadowed only by the loss of human life—as shown by the following statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A full 66 percent of overdose deaths in the United States involve opioids. In 2016, the number of opioid overdoses was five times higher than in 1999.

From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses. On average, that’s 115 Americans lives every day.

How Much Does the Opioid Epidemic Cost—and What to Do About It?

In its report, Altarum stated that it’s valuable to know the extent of the opioid problem—because awareness is the first step in finding a solution. The report recommended focusing on the following objectives:

  • Educating clinics on other ways of treating pain
  • Monitoring opioid prescribing
  • Working with insurers to encourage alternatives for managing chronic pain.
  • Removing barriers to treatment

Treatment at The Raleigh House

At The Raleigh House, we assign each resident his or her own master’s level therapist. One-on-one and group therapy sessions help heal emotionally, while chef-prepared meals and activities like yoga and boxing help heal the body. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program and the painkiller addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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