Legal Strategies for Economic Empowerment of Persons in Recovery
Substance use disorders, which afflict nearly 8% of the U.S. population, exact a devastating human and economic toll. The opioid epidemic has caused overdose deaths to quadruple since 1999. In 2013 alone, the epidemic imposed an economic burden of over $78.5 billion, including $28.9 billion in spending on health care and substance abuse treatment. These burdens increasingly fall on rural and under-resourced areas, particularly in the Appalachian region. The crisis has evoked a range of policy reforms to prevent addiction, investments in treatment for sufferers, and lawsuits against purveyors of addictive substances. Ultimately, however, society must assist the millions of people in recovery from substance use disorders to become productive, self-sufficient members of their communities.