Opioid Addiction Kept 1 Million People Out of Work in 2015, Says Study

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The opioid epidemic has not just had a devastating impact on the lifespan of Americans, but also on the country's economy. It has cost billions of dollars to the nation as a large chunk of the population stayed away from workplace. This has been corroborated by a recently published study by the American Action Forum (AAF). The drugs had a profound effect on the productivity as nearly 1 million people (aged 25 to 54) remained absent from work in 2015 because of their opioid addiction problem, which grew each year from 1999 to 2015.

The study authors calculated that the loss of employees' productivity took a heavy toll on the economy, costing a total loss of $702 billion or nearly $44 billion loss every year. Co-author Ben Gitis, director of labor market policy at the AAF, stated that there was a loss of work hours by 0.2 percent in the given period. The average growth rate was 2 percent and if the workers attended work, the growth rate would have been 2.2 percent.

Gitis said not only opioids are causing fatalities, they are majorly hindering the nation's economic growth. He extrapolated the research results of Princeton University economist Alan Krueger, who stated that a decline in workforce participation of 20 percent and 25 percent was found for men and women, respectively due to an increase in the prescriptions for painkillers.

Kruger also noted that regions with the highest number of opioid prescriptions observed a high number of employees dropping off. According to Grtis's research also, for women, more work hours were lost between 1999 and 2015 (6.4 billion) than men (5.7 billion). Unfortunately, employers across the nation are having a difficult time in filling the vacancies because people are not able to pass the drug test.

Effects of opioids on body

The long-term use of opioids can have a devastating effect on almost all the body parts. Opioids can cause daytime sleepiness for which a stimulant might be required to counter the effects. Prolonged use is also associated with the development of major depression. Regular use can lead to slow breathing, respiratory depression, leading to organ failure. Opioid abuse is also responsible for causing nausea, constipation and for slowing down the gastrointestinal motility, which can result in perforation, small bowel obstruction and peritonitis.

Opioid use can lead to psychomotor impairment in which there is an overall slowing of the physical movements and loss of coordination. Long-term use can also lead to hyperalgesia characterized by an increased sensitivity to pain and is also responsible for low immunity. People abusing opioids often take acetaminophen that can lead to acute liver injury. If alcohol is added to the mix, it can lead to liver failure as its capacity for excreting the toxins gets affected.

Seek drug-free life

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ), nearly 42,000 people succumbed to opioids in 2016 with 40 percent deaths involving prescription opioids. It's time that health authorities understand the magnitude of the problem and accelerate efforts in combatting the harmful effects. Addiction to opioids not just harms the user but also his/her family. Before it is too late, one must seek intervention to set things straight.