March 2018

IZA DP No. 11391: A Path Out: Prescription Drug Abuse, Treatment, and Suicide

forthcoming in: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2018

In this paper we investigate the dual role of supply restrictions and drug treatment in combating the concurrent rise of opioid abuse and suicide in the United States over the last two decades. We find that supply-side interventions decrease suicides in places with strong addiction-help networks, implying that prescription drug abuse is associated with an inherent risk of suicide. Our findings support an important role for access to treatment services in policies designed to combat the opioid epidemic.