June 24, 2024

Analysis counts toll of Arizona fentanyl crisis at $58 billion

A new report calculates the direct and indirect costs of the fentanyl crisis to Arizona’s economy at $58 billion last year.

Fentanyl 2019 CBP officers stand guard next to fentanyl seized by the agency at the Port of Nogales Jan. 26, 2019.
Jerry Glaser/CBP

The report comes from Common Sense Institute Arizona. Executive Director Katie Ratlief says the analysis includes both direct and indirect costs of the opioid crisis.

“When hospitals are crippled by the costs of — and many of them unreimbursable — of treating opioid use disorder, that has an impact on their ability to invest in other parts of their business, and that has a ripple impact on the community and ultimately on the state's economy,” she said.

The $58 billion loss includes hospital, law enforcement, and other public service costs, as well as the loss of quality of life and productivity among those suffering from addiction. It calculated the state’s economic loss from opioid overdoses at nearly $28 billion last year and from opioid-use disorder at more than $30 billion.

The $58 billion cost also includes what the state has invested in border security, which is says peaked in 2022 at $560 million and since fell to $30 million annually — a relatively small share compared to the economic loss of someone being killed or crippled by opioid use.

“It's a law enforcement issue, it's a healthcare issue, and ultimately it's a human issue,” Ratlief said. “And so we include in our analysis the costs of treatment for opioid use disorder, the cost to the economy, as I said, when people can't work because they've either passed away or they're crippled by their addiction.”

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