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Opioid Crisis’ Harrowing Human and Economic Costs

Robin Capehart, West Liberty

The former president of West Liberty University, Robin Capehart serves the Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia as a senior resident scholar. His experience as an educational administrator and as a consultant focused on tax law and tax reform has enabled him to contribute to the discussion of issues of public concern at a high level. Robin Capehart has authored numerous scholarly analyses of topics such as good governance, education reform, and West Virginia’s opioid epidemic.

In a November 2015 Public Policy Quarterly piece on the opioid crisis, he and his co-author note the major statewide efforts to address the problem over the past decade. Their article summarizes their considered opinion that, in order to be successful, West Virginia policymakers will need to develop a system with increased measurability, accountability, and long-range focus on both the needs of addicted citizens and the culpability of those profiting from the crisis.
In addition to the tragic human dimension of individual lives destroyed, the opioid epidemic has resulted in catastrophic economic effects.
West Virginia, Ohio, and other states at the epicenter of the crisis have seen exponential increases in the number of deaths from opioid overdoses. Children left orphaned need state services, care, and extensive therapy, causing some counties’ expenditures for social service needs to double.
Staggering losses in worker productivity harm local businesses, and rising crime and sudden death due to the problem have brought soaring costs of incarceration, coroner services, and court expenditures to communities that cannot afford them.

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