Local health officials, law enforcement respond to White House opioid report

INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – A new White House report released Monday found the true cost of the opioid crisis topped $500 billion in 2015.

That number is 6 times greater than the most recent estimate.

Michigan State University economics professor John Goddeeris says the main reason for the difference in those estimates has to do with how different studies treat opioid-related deaths.

“The Council of Economic Advisers is attaching a much higher cost to the lives that have been lost through the opioid crisis,” Goddeeris said.

But even looking past the report, in areas including Ingham County where opioid-related deaths are actually down, something else continues to drive up the cost of the epidemic.

“Overdose responses are up for law enforcement,” Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said. “ER visits for law enforcement are up and Narcan dispenses thus saving somebody’s life are way up.”

Ingham County Health Department Director Linda Vail said health care officials face even more challenges here as well.

“The cost in our medical examiner system to do all the tests to even determine how somebody died are starting to escalate,” Vail said. “The costs in our foster care system for children that are being removed from homes.”

It’s a price tag local law enforcement and health officials say isn’t going down any time soon.

“It’s probably higher to be honest with you, and it will probably continue to grow. This crisis is a national crisis and for sure a crisis here in Ingham County, and the more ways we can find to combat, to educate and to prevent addiction, the better off we’re going to be,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth said.

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