Chronic pain can be downright unbearable, and opioids to treat it can be hard to quit. In fact, with opioid addiction claiming more lives than ever, the US is experiencing what President Trump has just called a national emergency. Researchers found that in 2015, one in three Americans took opioid painkillers—sometimes prescribed by physicians, sometimes not, reports NBC News. And with aging populations in the US and beyond, researchers are now helping governments put a price on pain so that officials can decide how much of a spending priority to make pain management and research into pain management. In short, the new research says that for people who are 50 and older in the US, avoiding chronic pain is worth anywhere from $56 to $145 a day, reports Quartz.
Specifically, researchers looked at three things: each respondent's life satisfaction, income, and pain level. To "heavily oversimplify it," as the Washington Post puts it, the numbers represent either how much extra money a person suffering from chronic pain would need to make every day to enjoy the life satisfaction of someone not in pain, or how much a person not experiencing pain would have to lose to experience the life satisfaction of someone in pain. The range adds up to $20,000 to $53,000 a year, which almost reaches the country's $56,000 median household income. Not surprisingly, wealthier people and those in the most pain are willing to pay more for pain management. (The opioid epidemic may be considerably worse than previously calculated.)