In the process of reporting on the nationwide opioid crisis, there’s one common refrain that surfaces in conversations more than any other: “We aren’t going to arrest our way out of this problem.”

But, while there is overall consensus that the criminalization of drug use isn’t the right tactic to use, there is much less unity in identifying other approaches that state and local governments can take.

Richard Leadbeater, a state government industry manager at Esri, the Redlands, California-based geographic information systems software company has one idea: “To be honest, the best ammunition that public officials can embrace is storytelling.”

And, for Leadbeater, that storytelling comes in the form of data and maps.

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You’re not only reducing the supply [of pain medications] for those who use them inappropriately, but also for those in need.

Bob Tillman – Director of Policy and AdvocacyAmerican Academy of Pain Management

A study was conducted to estimate the societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Costs were grouped into three categories: health care, workplace, and criminal justice.

The results: Total US societal costs of prescription opioid abuse were estimated at $55.7 billion in 2007 (USD in 2009). Workplace costs accounted for $25.6 billion, health care costs accounted for $25.0 billion, and criminal justice costs accounted for $5.1 billion. Workplace costs were driven by lost earnings from premature death ($11.2 billion) and reduced compensation/lost employment ($7.9 billion).

Conclusions: The costs of prescription opioid abuse represent a substantial and growing economic burden for the society. The increasing prevalence of abuse suggests an even greater societal burden in the future.

Pain Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 4, April 2011
David Stengle

David Stengle

Chief Marketing Officer at Prescription Advisory
David is Prescription Advisory's Chief Marketing Officer. Software startups are his passion.

He also serves as the Director of Startup Grind Princeton and a mentor for the Princeton University eLab.
David Stengle
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