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September 28, 2022

The opioid crisis is costing the US trillions

Credit: Finansavisen, Lena Jarstad

The opioid crisis in the United States cost the country 1.5 trillion dollars in 2020 alone, and the costs will probably only increase, a new report from Congress shows.

That is an increase of as much as 487 billion dollars from 2019, Reuters writes, and a percentage increase of 37 percent from 2017.

Opioid-related deaths increased sharply during the pandemic. Of the 107,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2021, 75 percent of them were caused by opioids. Fentanyl, a relatively new and powerful synthetic opioid, is also included in the calculation.

That is equivalent to one 737 crashing every day, with no survivors. It is an incomprehensible number of deaths, says David Trone, a member of the House of Representatives.

The report includes several side effects of addiction and overdoses, such as unemployment and health care costs.

The figures also show that dark-skinned people account for 17 percent of overdoses in 2020, despite the fact that they only make up 12.5 percent of the population. Opioid use is more common among whites, but the dark-skinned have more challenges in getting help and treatment.

Former President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis, also called the opioid epidemic, a national health crisis in the United States in 2017. The best-known opioid drug is OxyContin, which was produced by the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma.