Addiction: Heroin & Pills: Social and Economic Tsunami


          Hello, I’m Steve Kendall, your
host of WBGU-TV’s new series, Addiction, Heroin and
Pills. In this part of our
series, we’ll look at the social and
economic impacts on our economy
and society that is caused as a result of opiate
and heroin epidemics. Families
and communities are being broken apart while
millions of dollars are being
spent to try and fix this
epidemic at its core whether it be
through the tax dollars we pay
for public and social services or
the cost of health care, this
epidemic has trickled down to effect
everyone. WBGU-TV is committed
to bring you the issues that
affect us here in Ohio. It is
our responsibility to bring awareness to this
epidemic. We now present part 3
of our series: The Social and Economic
Tsunami.                 Addiction to prescription
opiates and the path that has
led many to heroin has resulted in many
ramifications for our
communities and our economy. The sectors of society that
have been impacted the most
have been broken down into 4 areas: Medical, Labor, Crime,
and Social Services. It’s imperative to look at
these areas as we search for
answers to this epidemic. The opiate
epidemic that we’re facing is insidious. There are 2 things
that we don’t see. One is the larger impact on every family in our community,
and two is the impact that it will have on every
single family in our community. When you have a law enforcement, our courts,
social welfare and every system in our
community right now focused on
this opiate epidemic. When you look
at that down the line, it could
be devastating. In terms of economics and what
is the cost of an individual on society, an
individual who may or may not be related
to you. There are several cost factors. So we can look at
hospitalization, the cost for hospitalization can go up,
the cost for insurance, the
cost for medication, as well as the cost
for incarceration. And our taxes directly go to each
of those costs. It’s kind of like throwing a
pebble into water when you start to see the
rings go out and out and out Depending on the level of
severity and the level of
involvement that impact in the water can be
bigger and bigger and bigger. And you multiply that by the thousands of people that are
impacted directly as the user and then think about all the
people surrounding them that
are trying to help and the kind of impact that
it’s having on them. If you
look at local and state taxes, I mean, we’re
paying for individuals who are
in the prisons and the jails. We’re paying for
emergency service runs for folks who are
overdosing. I’ve had a county
commissioner tell me that 70-80 percent of
all their local costs are because of addiction
because of what they’re paying
for the local courts, what their paying the
local sheriffs, what they’re
paying for their jail system, what they’re paying for
kids is out of home placement, you know. This is
driving costs across the country. From our society
standpoint, kids are at a loss. These are parents, these
are their loved ones that are affected by this awful drug, so
we’re looking at just a large, significant
impact from our community standpoint on so
many levels that it’s really
hard to define. For many people, they
think that this is poverty, that this
affects just those that are
living in poverty. And the reality is: it is
affecting everyone. From emergency medical runs to
special treatment facilities, the cost to treat the illness
of opiate and heroin addiction
is enormous. The price of hospitalization,
rising insurance rates, and
medication assisted treatment are just a
few of the medical costs in
which we all bear the burden in one way or another.
When you look at the economic
impact of what’s happened in Ohio, I just want
to speak to our community,
we’ve seen a massive increase
in medical runs, people OD. I
mean, there’s 5 or 6 ODs a week here. That’s a cost
and burden on the system.               An overdose costs. It’s not just the
ambulance coming out. Usually
you also have an officer. Most runs, the estimation is about a 100
dollars per run per officer.
Then you have to talk about the time it takes
for that officer to write up
what’s called a U-10 or write up the actual report. The cost of
an overdose is pretty
extensive. The taxpayer bears the bulk of
that burden. We’re all highly trained
emergency medical technicians
as well as firefighters and we all have
another of other rescue
capabilities here. That makes us a good value for
the taxpayer, but at the same
time, when there’s a call for an overdose, we have
at least 3 and sometimes more if the call requires it
highly trained rescuers respond. Heroin? You
took some heroin? Yeah. Okay, how often do you use? A couple times a week. It’s a
pretty big expense. It’s 550 or 600 dollars per call
depending on how much care that we provide, and
understand that the revenue for
that doesn’t begin to offset the expenses
that we incur here at the fire
division. For our emergency medical
service, that’s all subsidized
by the taxpayer. It was estimated that
unintentional overdoses cost hospitals 7.7 billion dollars in the state of Ohio. Those costs go on and on. Then you have the
recovery cost, right? What
happens afterwards?       An impatient treatment, at
least in the state of Ohio, can
run anywhere from 800-1300 dollars
a day. And that includes their detox because
most go in with significant high and they’re unable to stay
clean, so they need to go
through that detox and have their withdrawal
symptoms controlled and managed before they can actually engage
in the official treatment. I
would say on the average, most patients
are there 30 days.   You have to take in a lot of consideration of the individual
and where their needs are. Some patients are going to need
suboxone as the method of treatment for their addiction.
So with suboxone, the cost can
vary. But the average for a month for
them to be on suboxone is roughly 300-400
dollars. When you look at vivitrol, it’s
a new medication that actually was just approved in 2012 for
medicaid to cover for addiction
treatment for opiate addiction. I would
say on average it’s probably
1,000 dollars per month. Research indicates
18-24 months is recommended, so if you’re
looking at a thousand dollars
for 18-24 months we’re looking at least the
24,000 to take care of most of these individuals.
As you begin to add up the
figures, it becomes a significant amount
of money that over time decreases as a person gains more control and
is further along in their
recovery. As the medical cost to treat each
addicted individual continue to
soar, the productivity and strength of
our labor force decreases due
to a lack of available workers. If people are sick,
enable to work, or simply not motivated due to their
addiction, their effectiveness
as a contributor to the labor force is either limited or
nonexistent. A business, a workplace, that is the backbone
of our economy in this nation. If that’s compromised or
hobbled, then it affects every single
citizen.     We experience in our area and
actually across the state, the Ohio Chamber of
Commerce has even adopted this, is that there are
more jobs in Ohio, there are more jobs in our area than
there are people to take those
jobs. But there’s another piece to
that that I don’t think we
think about, and that is if your wife or your husband is addicted to
opiates, that impacts you. That impacts
you at work. Your mind is half there. You’re half
worried. You even become ill from stress
or your working and your worried
about your son or your daughter
or a friend who has an opiate
addiction. Right now more than any time in history,
people are failing drug tests and are usually drugs while on the job, and
that is one of the most expensive
propositions for somebody using on a job and have an
accident or an injury. Problems and cries we hear
across the state and across the
nation is “I can’t find a labor force
that can pass a drug test.” The biggest stay awake at night
type of business factor is workers comp, the cost of insurance,
production, you know productivity. And when
they say lost productivity,
we’re talking about no shows at work. Poor
workmanship. You know, have to redo, have to farm out, have to
replace, the cost of replacement of
employees. So that productivity factor is huge.
The employers are paying 81 billion dollars of that
freight and 42 billion of that is in lost productivity. If we
take a person who is working
who is employed, who has an injury on
the job, that injury results in a filing
with the bureau of workman’s comp. which is a state office
where your taxes absolutely go
to. And then that person goes to
get treatment, and during the treatment, the person is
prescribed opiates. The person
can start to abuse the opiates,
become addicted, and then when
the bureau of workman’s comp says,
“You know what? Based upon what our standards
of treatment are and the
methodology for recovery, you’re going far
beyond what the normal prognosis or diagnosis recovery
time is, and so, based upon tests, results, so on and so
forth, we’re no longer going to provide you with this. You’re
able to go back to work.” If you are drug seeking and you’re
employed, and you’re using while you’re employed, you’re
putting the business at risk, What if it’s a small business?
We’re looking at treatment and
insurance costs going up. It’s like, we know
that 1 out of 5 people in just the United States are
misusing the drugs, that costs 25
billion dollars. It’s like, where do you think
that that money coming from?
Who’s paying for that? That’s gonna come
back to us in the costs of
drugs and medicine and healthcare. It’s
going to come back to us in the
cost of all the supplies and support
that we need to run a business, and that’s
the kind of thing that we’re
facing right now. And that cost of doing business plays
out in every way for that business. They are
going to pass that on to the
consumer. As economic stability in an
individual suffers, The natural progression of
addiction results in crime and
other drastic measures to obtain the fix. Theft,
burglary, and the selling of
stolen goods usually feeds the
addiction. The result of these
actions have led many to incarceration. In the city
of Bowling Green, we started to recognize that there was an
issue in about 2013 It really exploded for us.
Before, in 2010, we had 1 case possession of an opiate, we had 1 trafficking.
That exploded to 12 trafficking
incidents, 8 possession arrests in 2013, and
we started seeing people dying from this
epidemic. We recognized pretty early on that retail thefts had an
addiction component. We started seeing a lot of push
out at your big box stores like
Wal Mart and Meijer. People were going in,
filling up carts, pushing them
out and getting them in, and they
were trading this stuff for
drugs. That money has to be made up. That’s a loss for the
company. So that money has to be made up and they do that by
raising prices. We catch those people, we put them in jail.
Then we have that cost as well. You know, they have to be
housed, they have to be fed an
cared for, and they have to receive
treatment for their addiction
while they’re locked up. Those are tax dollars again
that are used to combat this problem. As
we look at the cost of incarceration in this state,
it’s cost us 25,000 dollars to house a
person for a year. If the person would
stay for 4 years, 100,000 dollars, so that
is a huge investment on the part of
the taxpayers quite frankly that are, I
think, all feel overtaxed to
begin with. In 2012, there were 7 million
individuals involved in the
criminal justice system. That individual
isn’t paying for that cost in jail. You’re paying for that
cost in jail out of your taxes. Usually on the county side or
the city covers those costs of jail nights. So, you’re
absolutely paying for the cost. You just may not be able to
break down what dollar goes
towards what fund, but your dollars
directly go towards the cost of addiction. You look
at the number of individuals in the correctional
system or in the local jail
system, who have an addiction, some
people will tell you it’s as
high as 80 percent of the folks. What we know is
folks with a significant addiction, if they don’t get
help, they tend to cycle in and
cycle out of local jails They tend to cycle in and out
of prisons which is why we’re so intent on trying to
get people the services they
need. We want to see to it that they got help and
that we get them connected with
local treatment systems. So that they’ll stay out of
jails and prisons. The societal
costs of addiction, particularly opiate
addiction is huge. I don’t care if they’ve been in
prison 1, 2, 3, or 4 years. If
we’ve not addressed the
addiction issue, addiction still exists
and they have a much higher likelihood of committing more
crime once they’re released,
creating more crime victims as we have. With
an addiction that has a track
record of breaking families
apart and crippling
communities, social services and programs
play a vital role in helping our society heal from the wounds
this addiction creates. From
treatment welfare, child protection
services and more, the cost of
social services are rising at alarming
rates. If you look at the impact addiction has on other
health and human services, we
know that many of the children who are in
out of home placement, again
some say as high as 80 percent of those kids, have one
parent or another who is at the very least has a
substance use disorder, if not
an addiction. If you look at the number of
clients that are involved with the prison system, if you look
at the kids that are in the
department of youth services, addiction and mental illness
are big drivers of cost. So whether I’m talking about a
young person who’s addicted or a parent who’s addicted, there
are social services costs all along the way. So if a
parent becomes addicted and as
a result of their addiction becomes
negligent, a social service
impact is the child may be removed from the
home. That child is then placed
through job and family services or
children services, and that has
a significant cost depending on
the level of placement. Certainly, child welfare
services is expensive. It costs the
taxpayers dollars that cost you and I dollars. In Ohio, we
spend approximately a billion dollars in children
services and that’s a lot of money. They costs
associated with our system is when children are placed in
out of home care, so the more children that we place
in out of home care, the more cost there is to Ohio
taxpayers. We have seen the numbers
increase steadily over the last couple of years in part
due to opiate addictions, and these families require
intensive case management. Social service
isn’t just about prescribing a pill. It isn’t
just about saying, “Well you just need to do talk
therapy.” We have to treat the
entire individual, the individual’s
family, and to make sure that there are no gaps in
services, so you’re talking
about everything from where they’re gonna live, who’s
gonna pay for that, where
they’re gonna receive treatment, where are the
children gonna receive
counseling, where’s the person
gonna see workforce development so that they can
get back into the workforce,
who’s gonna pay for the cost of insurance, who’s gonna pay
for the cost of healthcare?
Those are all costs that are associated, but
they’re also behavioral or integrated healthcare. Our
families, you know, they need a
lot. Child welfare is just one part
of the safety net for our community and we
can’t do it alone. We can’t be the only agency
that are keeping children safe, and we’re not. There are
many agencies working together to support healthy families.
It’s critical that we work together
collaboratively. Otherwise, we will see more tragedies. We
will see more abuse, We will see more neglect of our
children in Ohio. As we continue to examine the
cost to our economy and
society, numbers do not lie. The cost of
opiate addiction is staggering and it’s affecting
us all. Where we go from here
will depend on how we educate and prevent
current and future generations
from making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, I
can only look at this through my lens
and that is just in a very small rural community the
impact that this has had on our residents and our fellow
community members, and I look at the devastation that it
has had across the board in many aspects of people
lives, and I see the immediacy. As a nation, we
really need to have a sense of urgency in
battling this epidemic. And making sure that we put it
in check and that we remember to go back to the
beginning: do good education,
do prevention, and make sure we have the
systems to intervene and to
treat. We can’t afford the cost that
this epidemic is burdening us with. If we’re
spending our dollars because we are reinforcing and
helping and not preventing illness, then we are
losing valuable dollars that
could be spent in education, in gearing
up, in training, and really enhancing our
workforce. We’ve gotta treat
this like the chronic illness that it is.
We can’t say that this is just a social problem,
we can’t say that it’s a
character weakness, or a moral failing. It is an
illness, and we’re gotta treat it like the chronic
illness that it is. So, the
reality is, we have to instill in people that it’ll
be a hard road, but once you get on the
other side of treatment and once you get
into recovery, life will be
better. And I can say that personally. Life
is better when you’re in
recovery. Everyone has to take part in this. Families,
friends, law enforcement, rescuers like
the fire department, EMS, teachers, social workers.
I mean, it’s a societal problem, it’s a
systemic problem, and everybody
really needs to participate in that. We’ll look back on this like we
look back on polio, or look back on some other terrible disease. It
must have been the way my father looked back on WWII. You know,
it was a terrible time. I’m glad we’re through that and
we’ve moved on to a different era. That’s my vision. My vision is that we can take back our communities,
take back our children. And we can get people well
cause we know how to do it. Its
just a matter of everybody stepping
up and doing their part. We often are trying to
quantify it so that it’s much
more palatable for people or so that
they understand it. This issue of opioid addiction abuse in death is costing this nation
close to 100 billion to 120 billion dollars, but
instead of going with dollars, I really want us to
look at life. Not just life expectancy, but the lives of
the children, of these parents who are
overdosing, the lives of the parents who are watching their
children die slowly. Instead of looking at the
number of dollars spent, we really need to focus on the
number of lives that are lost
and make a commitment that not mine. Not
to be naive and say “That’s not
happening in my home,” or
“That’s not happening in my community,” assume that it is
happening and as a result, what kind of person am I? What
kind of community member, what kind of
parent am I if I don’t admit to it and have an
honest conversation about it? I would like to thank you for
joining us for part 3 of our series.
The social and economic impact
on our society is only part of the
problem. The real problems are
the lives that are lost every day to this
epidemic. Ohio is averaging 5 deaths every single day, and
it’s up to us to fix this. It may not be your family
directly but someone you know
is suffering and is at risk. This epidemic is a
serious issue for a lot of
families. And we’re here to help shed
light on this dark subject and
bring awareness to the issue. For WBGU-TV, I’m Steve
Kendall, we’ll see you next time. If you or someone
you know is dealing with an addiction, please call one
of the numbers on your screen
to get help. Recovery is only one call away. You can also log on to the
state of Ohio’s start talking website to get
more information and assistance.                                                

4 thoughts on “Addiction: Heroin & Pills: Social and Economic Tsunami

  1. I am sorry but complaining about addicts in the way of economic stability,crime ect…all the money they are losing in wages,hospital ect…..why isnt there more facilities to help these people….it is a disease and alot of these addicts want help but they have no insurance or money to go thru detox…where I live we pay 10% retail tax that is supposed to go for roads,and beautifulcation projects. I would rather use this tax to help these people. And I dont want to mention that its doctors start this addiction, doctors,who can help, but wont. For myself I cant afford insurance nor any government help-even tho when i was in the social service office, a women with a child with no green card qualified for medicare,wic, food stamps, Ive lived here in this state all my life, I am sorry but why don't we stop paying for people who live in states less than 2-3 weeks? My father is a Vietnam Vet and he doesnt qualify for anything either,he is terminally ill and I have to go to the food pantry for him. So no stop complaining and paying for hospital bills for people who arent legally here and yes help these poor addicts and help these Viet Vets that cant afford their meds and eat.plz dont be haters. i am just stating what I see in my state…I respect ur view even tho it may be different than mine, plz do so for me.

  2. When you have the cops chasing the people you have a money making operation. Why arenโ€™t they chasing the source, big pharma, doctors, and distributors and pharma reps with big tits blue eyes, and blond hair, the burden is created by those that are supposed to be regulated by those elected to represent our best interests. Think about it.๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘

  3. Legalise and control. Supervised drug taking clinics. It would save a fortune and more funds for rehab and it would also reduce crime by a large %age and would reduce health costs. Big Pharma should contribute a lot seeing as it's some of their bloody products that start off addiction, ie opiates.

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