CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — An advocacy group estimates drug and alcohol abuse cost New Hampshire $2.36 billion in 2014 in lost productivity, health care and strains on the criminal justice system.
A Monday report released by New Futures shows the growing economic toll of the crisis — up more than $50 million from the two previous years — as well as an explosion in the number of people seeking treatment under former President Barack Obama’s health care law. The number of insurance claims for substance abuse treatment in the state jumped from 63,000 in 2012 to 390,000 in 2014.
The nonprofit’s report comes on the heels of the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of a health care bill that critics worry will gut the state’s ability to fight the opioid crisis. The bill would cut money for Medicaid expansion and let states decide whether insurers must cover substance abuse and mental health treatment.
“Those two components of the Affordable Care Act have actually been the cornerstone of our efforts here in New Hampshire to expand treatment and address our opioid crisis,” said Linda Saunders Paquette, president of New Futures.
More than 10,000 low-income people on Medicaid expansion have accessed substance abuse treatment since the law took effect, the report shows.
The biggest cost to the state from substance abuse is in lost productivity, the report shows. It estimates roughly 12,000 people are out of the labor market due to alcohol and drug dependence.
Elsewhere, the report finds substance abuse costs the state more than $330 million in health care and more than $306 million in the criminal justice system.
New Hampshire has one of the highest per capita death rates due to drug overdoses in the nation, with nearly 500 people dying from an overdose last year. Alcohol addiction also remains a significant problem.