Heroin Epidemic Costs US Over $50 Billion Per Year

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

A. Simon Pickard, PhD

Dr. Pickard

A. Simon Pickard, PhD
Professor, Dept of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy
University of Ilinois at Chicago
College of Pharmacy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The heroin epidemic, which has left virtually no part of American society unscathed, can be viewed as an illness.  Unlike some illnesses, however, it was largely manufactured by stakeholders in the healthcare system, wittingly or unwittingly.

The main finding, that heroin addiction costs us just over $50 billion per year, is likely a conservative estimate.

“Heroin Tree” by Bart Everson is licensed under CC BY 2.0MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Given the annual cost to society, this study provides a clear rationale for investing public funds into prevention and treatment strategies.  If they actually work, those are likely to represent good value for money from a purely economic perspective, let alone from a humanistic one.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We need more implementation science.  We need to know which type of strategies are effective in various users and settings and figure how to implement them in practice.  If they work, it will be worth it for so many reasons.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: This study could help policy makers justify investments that  mitigate a public health disaster.  We need to empower users and their families with health strategies that work.  Addiction is complex and the solutions are not straightforward.  However, if you turn a blind eye or commit to ineffective strategies and naive policies that focus on incarceration, for example, it is going to cost everyone.  About $50 billion and rising every year. 

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


The societal cost of heroin use disorder in the United States

Ruixuan Jiang, Inyoung Lee,Todd A. Lee,A. Simon Pickard Published: May 30, 2017

PLOS One https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177323

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice.

Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on June 10, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD