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Substance Use Cost Calculator Methodology and Issue Briefs


The Substance Use Cost Calculator for Employers was designed by the National Safety Council and NORC at the University of Chicago, and funded by Nationwide. This easy-to-use tool gives employers information about the impact of substance use in the workplace, and what they can do to increase the safety, health and productivity of their employees.

This document describes in detail the methods behind the numbers.

Alcohol, prescription pain medication, opioid and other drug-use disorders are among the most common and costly health conditions affecting Americans. More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2019, and nearly 50,000 of those deaths involved opioids. Over 2 million Americans suffer from an opioid use disorder.

New estimates show that the economic impact of the opioid crisis reached $1.02 trillion in 2017. However, the costs of substance use to businesses may not be apparent and many companies remain largely in the dark about how substance use impacts their bottom line.

The Calculator gives a simple estimate of the financial toll faced by individual businesses and illuminates an area with significant potential for cost reduction and improved productivity. It also helps businesses see how much they can save by supporting employees through treatment and into recovery.

The Issue Briefs

These issue briefs take a deep dive into a variety of other topics related to substance use in the workplace. Learn more about how these specific issues impact your workplace and employees.

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