Economic Distress and Opioids

coins on table

In a 2018 American Psychological Association poll, one in three people reported knowing someone who had suffered (or is suffering) from an opioid addiction. While efforts have been made to curtail the opioid epidemic by reigning in prescriptions, improving access to treatment and recovery, and providing education on prevention to communities and families, opioids still hit too close to home for most Americans. Yet, why is that?

New research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is shining a light on the role of economic hardship and opioid addiction. When large-scale manufacturing plants close down, the loss of jobs and subsequent financial distress can put a huge strain on families.

Teams of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Harvard University, and Massachusetts General Hospital, reviewed county-level opioid overdose mortality rates before and after the closure of car assembly plants between 1999 and 2016. They looked at adults ages 18 to 65 years in 112 manufacturing counties (across mainly the South and Midwest). Findings from the study showed that deaths from opioid overdose were 85 percent higher in counties that were impacted by the plant closures.

Deaths from suicide, drugs, and alcohol or “deaths of despair” have been on the rise, particularly for “middle-aged white Americans without college or high school educations.” Life expectancy rates have also declined in the past few years. There is more to the equation than just opioids, however, as rising levels of distress and despair in communities can “discourage exercise and encourage smoking, speeding and other bad habits.” Reinvigorating communities in need economically, while ensuring adequate resources for families, is as essential strategy for addressing opioids and other public health challenges.

About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.