Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

The opioid epidemic has cost our nation $1 Trillion since 2001 and may exceed $500 billion over the next three years. The report by Altarum said the greatest cost is in lost earnings and productivity. Then there are healthcare costs, substance abuse disorders and early deaths. Government loses tax revenue while the police and the law enforcement community are burdened. And the costs are rising as local and state governments ramp up efforts to combat this crisis—needle exchange programs, substance abuse programs and naloxone for first responders. Opioid abuse is indeed costly, but the greatest cost is to human potential and the contributions that people could be making to their families and their communities. A trillion dollars is a lot of money but the lives lost to this scourge are priceless and irreplaceable.