The opioid crisis has become one of the greatest public health challenges in our nation’s recent history, reaching an economic toll of $1 trillion since 2001. Across the country, states and municipalities are working to measure the scope of the problem, and the interventions and resources needed to address it. Where do we begin in answering these critical questions? It starts with assessing the cost of opioid dependency to individuals, families, the private sector and government.
Altarum has conducted analyses into these costs at the national, state and county level. We employ a proprietary method based on our Value of Health model, which we have used to assess the societal cost of a variety of health conditions, from obesity to lead exposure. In assessing the cost of the opioid crisis, we calculate lost productivity and wages, which are most deeply felt by individuals, families and the private sector. We also look at spending on health care, criminal justice, education and social services, much of which is borne by local, state and federal government.
Below is an interactive map of the cost of opioid dependency by state. Each state’s cost burden is rendered relative to the national average. For example, Ohio’s total economic burden is 1.6, which indicates a burden 60 percent higher than the average state burden.
Economic Burden of the Opioid Crisis by State Relative to the National Average, 2016.
2016 Relative Per-Capita Total Economic Burden: A measurement of the severity of a state’s opioid cost burden, relative to the national average (values greater than 1 indicate a larger burden per state resident and values less than 1 indicate a smaller burden per resident)
2016 Population: Total state population, source
2016 Fatal Opioid Overdose Rate: The rate of opioid-connected overdose deaths in 2016 (per 100,000 residents), adjusted using Ruhm (2017), source
When responding the crisis, it is important not only to address the cost, but also implement programs that reduce opioid addiction over the immediate and long term. Learn about our work with states in this area, including responsible opioid prescribing for clinicians, and building community recovery supports.