The Cost of Opioid Addiction

Odyssey House President Dr. Peter Provet writes that psychosocial treatment is the only way to save this generation in response to a recent article (“‘We Could Have Been Anything,’” news, Dec. 3) in The New York Times.

To the Editor:

In “‘We Could Have Been Anything’” (news article, Dec. 3), the lives lost in the opioid crisis are only the beginning of the devastation.

The collateral damage to our society is stunning. Families, especially children born to parents addicted to opioids who are now dead, in jail or still using, are the latest tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Meanwhile, the cost to the economy — at least $631 billion from 2014 to 2018 — keeps going up and up, draining local municipalities from Ohio to New York already straining to provide services.

There is no quick fix for people addicted to opioids. Intensive medication-assisted treatment that supports behavioral change is an essential way to reduce overdose deaths and help people rebuild their lives.

Yes, it takes time. Yes, people relapse. And yes, treatment costs money. But compared with the enormous societal costs, broad-based psychosocial treatment is the only way we can save this generation, and the one after it.

Peter Provet
New York
The writer is president and chief executive of Odyssey House.