Anguished families shoulder the biggest burdens of opioid addiction

There are many different types of costs associated with the opioid epidemic: including emergency response, health care, criminal justice, rehabilitation and lost productivity. It’s no wonder the total estimated burden from the epidemic is enormous. Health care research firm Altarum put the figure at $1 trillion since 2001. The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimates that, including lost productivity because of opioid deaths, the total economic cost from the opioid crisis reached $504 billion in 2015 alone.

The biggest share of that burden is borne by families — who measure the damage not only in financial terms, but in terms of anxiety and heartache.

Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University in Muncie, compares the epidemic to a war — those who survive can remain scarred for life. The economic loss can be measured in paychecks not earned, absent parents not coaching soccer, and careers cut short by a criminal drug charge.

Hicks says it will likely require more money — government funds and family resources — to address. Congress has approved $6 billion in funding to respond to the opioid epidemic over the next two years.

Read more at NPR