Estimating the Economic Burden of the Opioid Epidemic
The annual economic burden of the opioid epidemic in Virginia is estimated to have reached nearly $3.5 billion in 2020. This burden is carried by Virginia's workers, employers, and governments, and includes both future losses and current direct spending that could have been avoided.
Virginia families and businesses take on a large amount of these costs, mostly due to lost future worker productivity. Federal, state, and local governments also see increased healthcare and government costs and lost future tax revenues. The cost burden of the opioid epidemic is split among several sectors.
Mapping the Economic Burden of the Opioid Epidemic
Not all Virginia counties and cities experience the same economic burden caused by the opioid epidemic. The map below shows the county and city breakdown of per-capita costs (total costs divided by the total population) for each sector.
Scroll over the map below to explore how the opioid crisis impacted counties and independent cities in Virginia. Click the tabs at the top of the map to change which sector is being shown on the map. Per-capita costs are total costs divided by the total population for each sector.
The Human Toll
The largest component of these labor losses is due to deaths from opioid drug overdose, estimated at nearly $1.9 billion.
In calculating the economic costs of loss of life, it’s important to remember that these estimates do not include the value of lives lost, which are measureless. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is committed to ending the opioid epidemic, which claims thousands of lives every year.
VDH's Opioid-Reduction Efforts
VDH runs many programs to reduce opioid use and overdose, including:
- Partnering with emergency departments to link those who have experienced an overdose with peer support and treatment programs;
- Distributing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “It Only Takes a Little to Lose A Lot” media campaign across Virginia;
- Learning more about populations affected by opioid use through data and surveillance, and;
- Sponsoring learning opportunities for health care providers through an online education platform.