The hidden costs of the opioid crisis and the implications for financial management in the public sector

The hidden costs of the opioid crisis and the implications for financial management in the public sector


Forensic Science International: Synergy, September 2019


Jeri D. Ropero-Miller | RTI International
Paul J. Speaker | John Chambers College of Business & Economics


The November 2017 release of the Council of Economic Advisers’ White House report on the opioid crisis suggests that prior consideration of expenses severely underestimated the economic costs of the opioid crisis. When corrected for these losses, the annual cost from the opioid crisis leapt nearly 600%. The cost to the criminal justice system was estimated at $8 Billion of which $270 million is borne by crime laboratories. However, laboratory budgets have not grown at a rate capable of meeting this increased demand for forensic science services. The hidden costs of the opioid crisis borne by the forensic crime laboratories comes as funds are diverted in the laboratory to meet the increased demands for services in drug chemistry and toxicology. Dramatic increases in turnaround times across other areas of investigation continue to grow as the crisis accelerates.

Funding for this article was provided by the Forensic Technology Center of Excellence and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contact us at with any questions and subscribe to our newsletter for notifications.

Related Content

Foundational Statistics for Forensic Toxicology Webinar Series

Overview In the field of Forensic Toxicology, numerical data and statistics abound, appearing in quantitative analyses, quality control, measurement uncertainty, proficiency testing, method validation, experimental design, peer-reviewed journal articles, business analytics, and more. Foundational statistical knowledge is critical to understanding…

FITS—Functional Implementation of Thorough and Systematic Approaches for Fracture Examinations

This webinar originally occurred on June 4, 2024 Duration: 1 hour Overview The separation of materials such as tape, plastics, and textiles from their original source frequently occurs during violent activities, leaving distinct patterns along the fractured edges. These features…

A National Snapshot of Publicly Funded Crime Laboratory Operations

← Back to Webinar Series Page This webinar originally occurred on April 2, 2024 Duration: 1 hour Overview Crime labs perform a variety of forensic analyses for federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies, examining and reporting on physical evidence…