You may not think America’s opioid epidemic is affecting you directly, but the truth is you’re wrong. Even if no one in your inner circle is facing a painkiller dependency (which is becoming more and more rare), you are beginning to feel its effects in the U.S. economy and in the job market. New research from The American Action Forum emphasizes that point even more, revealing that nearly 1 million people were not working in 2015 because of the crisis.
The Action Forum has actually been watching this trend for a while. Dating back to 1999, they showed that year after year, an increasing amount of Americans lost their jobs because of a dependency. The 2015 stat measured people between the ages of 25 to 54 and put the grand total at approximately 919,400 let go because of addiction.
Worse yet, within that 16-year span between the late 1990’s and the mid-2010’s; it is believed that workforce issues cost the U.S. economy as much as $702 billion. This data also mirrors more recent analyses, including one from Princeton University which showed that a good portion of 2017’s 20 percent workforce decline can be attributed to opioid addiction.
Ben Gitis, one of the co-authors of the American Action study, believes that billions of work hours were lost over the decades because of this. He also thinks this could have serious repercussions on taxpayers and America at large.
“It’s something we hear companies talk about all the time, not being able to have workers pass drug tests and being unable to simply get workers to apply because they know they won’t pass the drug test,” Gitis told TheFix.com. “It was really important that we get a sense of what the magnitude of this could be. The opioid crisis is a major health issue and the overdose fatalities by themselves suggest how big of a problem it is. But it’s also a major constraint on our economy.”
And as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, it’s not just blue collar workers who are affected by this crisis. Millions of experienced professionals (such as doctors, attorneys and Wall Street traders) are in the midst of it as well, with an impact on virtually every industry throughout the U.S.
America’s opioid crisis is very real and it is happening on a much closer level than most people realize. If you or someone you are close is struggling with a painkiller dependency, reach out and get the help that’s needed.