Substance abuse increase could cost the U.S. billions

Prevalent cases of opioid use disorder could total around 1.9 million in 2021 and could cost the U.S. billions to treat, data and analytics firm GlobalData said.

An increase in substance use — 13% in 2020 — could cost the United States healthcare system billions of dollars to treat, a new report said.

Prevalent cases of opioid use disorder (OUD) could total around 1.9 million in 2021 and could cost the U.S. billions to treat, data and analytics firm GlobalData said in a press release.

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Last year’s substance use increase could result in an additional 252,000 cases in the number of Americans who abuse substances. Plus, the number of overdoses also increased. In fact, there is an 18% increase in overdose deaths — 687 in 2020, according to early data — in Allegheny County, PA alone, reports Public Source.

The U.S. market for opioid addiction is expected to nearly double from $1.5 billion to $2.9 billion between 2021 and 2028, GlobalData said in its report, ‘Opioid Use Disorder: Opportunity Analysis and Forecasts to 2028.

“Similarly, one can expect the markets related to alcohol addiction to increase due to various associations with fatal liver diseases, heart problems and other complications,” GlobalData said.

GlobalData epidemiologists estimated that more than 21.2 million Americans are expected to suffer from alcohol addiction in 2021, resulting in an additional 2.8 million cases this year.

“Such a significant increase in the prevalence of substance use will increase the overall cost of treating alcohol addiction and OUD downstream as substance abuse needs to be managed over a long period of time,” said Walter Gabriel, MPH, epidemiologist at GlobalData,

Alcohol addiction and OUD and may also reduce the U.S. life expectancy after increases in recent years, GlobalData said. Plus, an increase in the prevalence of substance abuse would also result in a significant loss of life.

“Since the brunt of this loss will mainly impact younger populations as substance abuse tends to affect young and middle-aged adults disproportionately, this trend could lead to stagnation or even a decrease in the U.S. life expectancy as more younger adults die prematurely,” Gabriel said.

To reduce the economic and human toll from substance abuse in the U.S., more attention needs to be paid towards primary and secondary interventions, according to Gabriel.

“More awareness of substance use should be put forward. In addition, a preventative approach should be taken to reduce the proportion of Americans transitioning from substance use to substance misuse.”