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Opioid Addiction's Cost to Indiana Economy: $1.5B

IU economists: Addiction siphons workers from labor force, hamstrings productivity

(INDIANAPOLIS) - IU's Kelley School of Business calculates opioid abuse is costing Indiana businesses around $1.5 billion a year.

In an otherwise optimistic economic projection, IU's Business Outlook Panel says the estimated 70,000 Hoosiers abusing painkillers or using heroin are "a significant risk to the forecast."  Economist Kyle Anderson says those workers are five times more likely to be unemployed. If they do manage to hold down a job, they're not as productive.

Even iU's high-end estimate of $1.8 billion represents less than a third of a percent of Indiana's economy. But Anderson notes IU is projecting economic growth of just under three-percent. That means opioids may not slow the economy to a stop, but it's a drag on the growth the state might otherwise experience. And Anderson says addiction worsens one of the other factors restraining growth: Hoosier businesses have been having trouble finding enough workers.

Anderson says the estimate suggests policymakers should be willing to spend money to reverse the epidemic, knowing the money will be recouped -- provided the programs they fund actually work.

(Photo: backpack555/Thinkstock)

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