INDIANAPOLIS — Two new studies have found that tobacco and opioid addictions cost Indiana more than $8.2 billion a year and say the state should do more to address these problems.
The studies released Thursday determined the toll from tobacco alone comes to $6.8 billion, taking into account health-care costs, debts incurred from secondhand smoke and lost productivity due to smoking on the job at smoking-related diseases, the Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/2ca0UFf ) reported.
The studies also found that opioid overdose deaths also cost the state $1.4 billion in 2014. More than 1,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2014, and tobacco was the cause of more than 10 times that number of deaths.
The studies were released by the Fairbanks Foundation and conducted by IUPUI’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. Fairbanks Foundation officials hope showcasing the human and economic costs of these addictions will motivate people statewide to act.
Some say their publication represents increasing attention being paid to these issues. Indiana Addictions Coalition director Kim Manlove said an HIV outbreak in Scott County linked to extensive drug use also helped shine the spotlight on how prevalent addiction is in some communities.
“For the first time in the past decade, I think we’re seeing an awareness of these issues and a willingness to actually do something about it that we haven’t seen,” he said. “I don’t know frankly that it shows anything new. I’m just grateful that they have joined the fray.”
Paul Halverson, founding dean of the Fairbanks School of Public Health, said that while tobacco use and opioid addiction appear to differ from one another, they have several features in common. He said both addictions are health behaviors that can be prevented.
“It’s really important to understand that these are addictions that are really tough to beat on their own,” Halverson said.
Ben Gonzales, 25, understands that after being in the throes of heroin addiction two and a half years ago. He has been sober for two years after going through a 90-day inpatient treatment program.
“I think this study is great. I think it brings awareness,” he said. “Unless we talk about how we change, we’re not going to get anywhere.”
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com