The Potential Societal Benefit of Eliminating Opioid Overdoses, Deaths, and Substance Use Disorders Exceeds $95 Billion Per Year

altarumThis research brief from Altarum, a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization, analyzes data on the effects of opioids to estimate the magnitude of economic and quantifiable societal harms to find the potential benefit of preventing opioid overdoses, deaths, and substance use disorders. The brief finds that prevention would have saved $95 billion lost in productivity, health care, criminal justice, child and family assistance, and education costs due to opioids in 2016. Preliminary data for 2017 predict this estimate of lost earnings and productivity will increase. The findings call for substantial increases in funding at all levels—from both private and public sectors—to prevent opioid misuse and provide treatment for those affected; these benefits, including governments’ savings and increases in economic returns to households and the private sector, would accrue to all of society.