Today, the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released a report on the economic costs of the opioid crisis. Please see below for the executive summary and read the full report here.
The opioid drug problem has reached crisis levels in the United States—in 2015, over 33,000 Americans died of a drug overdose involving opioids. CEA finds that previous estimates of the economic cost of the opioid crisis greatly understate it by undervaluing the most important component of the loss—fatalities resulting from overdoses. This paper estimates the economic cost of these deaths using conventional economic estimates for valuing life routinely used by U.S. Federal agencies. It also adjusts for underreporting of opioids in overdose deaths, includes heroin-related fatalities, and incorporates nonfatal costs of opioid misuse. CEA estimates that in 2015, the economic cost of the opioid crisis was $504.0 billion, or 2.8 percent of GDP that year. This is over six times larger than the most recently estimated economic cost of the epidemic.