Opioids and tobacco claimed 14,200 Hoosier lives last year and cost $12.6 billion in health care expenses, lost productivity and other economic damages, according to a pair of reports released Tuesday by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.
Progress has been made to address both health crises, the report says, but “more work must be done to make meaningful progress.” More than 1,700 Hoosiers died from drug overdoses in 2017 – a record high and a 75 percent increase since 2011. The vast majority of those deaths were linked to opioid misuse, according to the report.
Smoking and secondhand smoke cause a combined 12,500 Hoosier deaths each year, a foundation news release states. More than 1 in 5 Hoosiers smoke, one of the highest rates in the nation.
Dr. Deborah McMahan, Fort Wayne-Allen County health commissioner, commended the foundation for “numerically describing the impact of addiction – regardless of if that addiction is to nicotine or opioids.”
“It is important to remember the numbers provided by Fairbanks are a gross underestimate of the people affected by this crisis – both directly and indirectly,” McMahan said in an email. “The vacuum created by premature loss of life and health for families and communities is difficult to describe. The grief, the guilt, the shame – so powerful, so draining, so impactful and yet, so hard to numerically describe. “
The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation concentrates on the well-being of Indianapolis residents by focusing on education, tobacco and opioid addiction and the life-sciences.