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The High Costs Of Addiction

Addiction is a national problem that, in truth, impacts every American. Yes there are emotional implications, especially if it concerns a friend or a close relative. But there are also financial implications, adding to U.S. inflation rates, rising hospital costs and a host of other economic problems that an epidemic like the opioid crisis can cause. On that end, Yahoo Finance recently shared an article that broke down some of these unforeseen costs.


One major stat touted in the article comes from the Journal of the American Medical Association (or JAMA). Their data revealed that U.S. substance abuse problems cost hospital systems as much as $13 billion each year. And a whopping $7.6 billion of that total is devoted to alcohol issues alone.


Skyrocketing figures like this can have a ripple effect on society as a whole. Not only do they impact everyday taxpayers and insurance carriers, they can also increase hospital costs for admitted patients who are not battling substance issues. Dr. Nora Volkow, a spokesperson for the National Institute of Drug Abuse, spoke to Yahoo Finance about alcoholism specifically and how that is driving up hospital admissions across the country.


“It’s not surprising because alcohol is the most accessible of all the substances,” Dr. Volkow explained. “I can go one block from my house and when everything was closed, the liquor store was open in my neighborhood. It’s accessible in every single way. We’ve made alcohol drinking part of our social interaction, part of our everyday routine. We may drink a glass of wine with dinner. So that’s not surprising at all.”


JAMA took a deeper look into how addiction issues play into hospitals. In 2017, for example, 4 percent of all U.S. emergency room visits were due to substance abuse issues. They also accounted for 10 percent of all inpatient admissions. Alcoholism was the top diagnosis within that set, though opioid disorders were not far behind. Apparently, painkiller dependencies accounted for $2 billion of that $13 billion total referenced above (and that stat is steadily rising).


The economics of addiction need to be a major consideration throughout this country.  We have reported before about the opioid epidemic and the country’s workforce, with hundreds of thousands people now unemployed because of their habits. This can create a tremendous ripple on the U.S. economy, truly impacting every single American.