As with the rest of the country, Indiana has seen the devastating effects of opioid addiction. One study shows that opioid-related deaths have risen by more than 500 percent in the last 15 years. While the physical effects of opioid addiction in Indiana have been well-documented, the financial costs have not been widely reported until now. New research from Indiana University shows the staggering cost of opioid addiction in the state.
The Shocking Cost of the Opioid Epidemic in Indiana
Published in the spring 2018 edition of the Indiana Business Review, researchers studied the direct and indirect costs of opioid abuse. The results of the study are shocking and eye-opening. Last year, economic costs from opioid abuse in Indiana cost $4.3 billion last year and will exceed $4 billion this year. Since 2003, opioid abuse has cost the state $43.3 billion while claiming 12,500 lives.
Additionally, researchers also shared the following findings:
- Non-lethal opioid overdoses cost over $224 million in hospitalization costs in 2016 alone, with an additional $297 million in other opioid-related hospital stays.
- More than $40 million is spent annually for rehabilitation costs.
- The cost of drug arrests and court costs exceeds $13 million annually, and costs of incarceration have reached more than $70 million each year.
- The previous health care costs do not include the state’s 578 youngest victims: infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, who experience withdrawal symptoms after losing access to their mother’s drugs after birth. The researchers estimate that total marginal costs for neonatal abstinence syndrome births totaled more than $36 million in 2016.
- As of 2016, an estimated 5,243 Hoosier children were in foster care due to parental opioid misuse (a more than 600 percent higher increase from 2003).
- Total funeral costs for victims of opioid overdose deaths rose from $1.2 million in 2003 to $7.1 million in 2016.
Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University at Columbus, stated that the opioid crisis in Indiana has been compounded by economic factors. In the May 14, 2018 edition of News at IU, Brewer said the following in an article
“While it is true the entire nation has been mired in the crisis, only a handful of states — including Indiana — have been struggling with the epidemic while also facing an increasingly tight labor market, which challenges our hopes of realizing strong post-recessionary growth in an economy where labor is increasingly difficult to find.”
Overall, the research done by Brewer and co-author Kayla Freeman shows the impact of opioid misuse on Indiana’s labor market. Their findings show that lost gross state product totaled $1.72 billion in 2016. This total nearly doubled the $926 million loss from the year before. Additionally, research showed that potential lost wages as a result of opioid addiction totaled $752 million in 2016.
What Can Be Done to Reverse the Opioid Crisis in Indiana?
While prescription medications have been prescribed by doctors for a few decades, the root of Indiana’s opioid epidemic goes back a decade. As stated earlier, the physical aspects of Indiana’s opioid crisis have been well documented. However, researchers wanted to uncover the economic consequences of opioid addiction. With the economy of Indiana still struggling, the economic impact of the state’s opioid epidemic comes to the forefront.
From the current study, researchers presented several recommendations on how Indiana’s opioid crisis can be addressed in a proactive manner:
The Reduction of Stigma
Community leaders, legislators, law enforcement, educators, and others must be active in helping reduce the stigma surrounding opioid addiction. The stigma of addiction is rooted in moral and spiritual bases. As the study of addiction has developed over the decades, addiction is now seen as developing a complex set of factors. These factors include environment, hereditability, family history, and exposure to substance use among others.
Opioid addiction does not affect a certain population; it affects people from all walks of life. Those who become addicted to opioids don’t intend to abuse these drugs. Reducing stigma, better education on opioid addiction and providing adequate resources to get help are key in getting addicts the help they deserve.
Proper Prescribing Practices
Another recommendation by researchers is to train new oral surgeons and physicians in properly prescribing pain medications. Overprescribing prescriptions is a huge factor in the birth of the opioid crisis. While some doctors overprescribe as the result of greed, many doctors have so due to lack of training and understanding. Researchers recommend that schools develop curriculum focusing on the high addiction potential of prescription painkillers and introduce practices that emphasize safe prescribing of these medications.
Intervention and Education
Researchers also recommended that educational leaders from pre-K through high school consider expanding their curriculum of the risks associated with the misuse of pharmaceuticals. Additionally, educators should learn how to identify at-risk students, so intervention measures can be put into place.
Coordinating Local Resources
In order to combat Indiana’s opioid crisis, researchers also suggested that local agencies coordinate resources to address the issue. Mayors, law enforcement, congressional representatives, medical personnel and other leaders can form a task force combining these local resources in order to develop a more comprehensive solution in those of the state that might be more severely affected by the crisis.
If You are Struggling with Opioid Addiction, Help is Available to You
If you or a loved one is fighting an addiction to opioids, feelings of hopelessness and fear are commonplace. You may feel there is nowhere to turn to get the help needed to break free from opioids. Fortunately, the treatment professionals at B-Hope offer the programs and support needed to get healthy and clean for good.
Our treatment programs have been thoroughly tested and researched, and you will receive the care you need to get better. No matter how severe your opioid addiction, our programs can be tailored to meet your unique and specific needs. Call B-Hope toll-free today and take back control of your life.