RED HOT Contributors


Fatal Overdoses, ER Visits Rise With Unemployment Rate


What’s fueling the rise in opioid deaths? A recent report by Olga Khazan for The Atlantic points to economic reasons—namely, unemployment. 

A study published this month in the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) showed that in a given county, as the unemployment rate grows by 1 percentage point, the rate of opioid deaths grows by 3.6% and emergency room visits increase by 7%.

The authors of this research suspect that this has to do with a cluster of factors related to economic hardship that foster depression, heightened pain sensitivity, and thus, more opioid use—to soothe the “physical manifestation of mental health problems that have long been known to rise during periods of economic decline.” 

But unemployment is, inevitably, just one piece of the puzzle.


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