Prescription Opioid Overdose, Abuse and Dependence Costs $78.5 Billion Annually & Misused by Almost 19 Million Americans

A new study estimates prescription opioid overdose, abuse and dependence costs $78.5 billion annually in the United States.

Researchers from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control said healthcare accounts for about one-third of costs attributable to the prescription opioid epidemic, Newswise reports.

An additional one-fourth of costs are borne by the public sector, they wrote in the journal Medical Care. Those costs include public insurance (Medicaid, Medicare and veterans’ programs), as well as other government sources for addiction treatment.

State and local governments also pay $7.7 billion annually in criminal justice costs related to the opioid epidemic.

Almost 19 Million Americans Misused Prescription Drugs Last Year

A new government survey finds 18.9 million people ages 12 and older—7.1 percent—misused prescription drugs such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives last year.

The survey found 45 percent of Americans take one or more of these drugs, NPR reports.

The widespread use of these drugs could be contributing to the high rate of misuse, experts say.

Most people who misused prescription drugs obtained them from friends and family, the survey found. More than one-third had their own prescription, but took more drugs than prescribed.

“Just like any drug, the more it’s out there, the more it’s available, the more likely it is to be abused,” Kim Johnson, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, told NPR.