That 30-year plan was authored by Christopher Ruhm, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Virginia. He says you can easily get into the billions when you consider the costs of dealing with this epidemic in the long term.

    "Take one example," Ruhm says. "Addiction treatment services, which includes a variety of things — that includes inpatient services, outpatient services, residential care. You're talking a cost there on the order of $230 million per year. And so if you take that over a 30-year period — and then you discount it to net present value and all the things economists do — you come up with a cost for treatment services of just under $6 billion."

    Just that cost gets you more than a third of the way to $17 billion. The rest comes from all sorts of things, he says: public and physician education programs; treatment for babies who are born to mothers who used opioids; data systems for pharmacists to better track prescriptions grief support groups and more. Ruhm added up all those costs over 30 years, and got more than $17 billion.

posted 284 days ago