A new study concludes economic downturns lead to an increase in substance use disorders involving prescription pain relievers and hallucinogens.
The connection is strongest among middle-aged white males with low levels of education.
The researchers studied the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and its potential impact on substance use, The Wall Street Journal reports.
They find “clear evidence that substance-use disorders involving analgesics and hallucinogens are both strongly countercyclical,” meaning that such drug use increases when the economy falters.
The relationship between unemployment and painkiller abuse is especially strong among people who work in sales and service occupations, the researchers wrote in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. They found in fields such as construction, maintenance, machine operators, transportation workers and the armed forces, heroin use was strongly countercyclical.
“As state budgets contract during economic downturns, drug-treatment funding is particularly vulnerable,” the researchers wrote. “Our findings suggest that such funding...
Law enforcement officials say they are seeing increasing cases of the potent opioid fentanyl being sold as other painkillers, such as oxycodone or Percocet.
In Tennessee, officials say there have been two dozen cases in recent months of pills marked as oxycodone or Percocet that turned out to include fentanyl, according to the Associated Press.
Fentanyl is 25 to 40 times more powerful than heroin, the article notes. It is used for treatment of chronic pain in end-stage cancer patients.
San Francisco’s health department said several overdoses last summer were due to fentanyl that looked like Xanax.
Canada has issued warnings about fentanyl pills that look like oxycodone.
Federal agents arrested a man in suburban Cleveland in February after seizing more than 900 pills containing fentanyl that were marked as oxycodone tablets. Carole Rendon, acting U.S. Attorney in Cleveland, explained fentanyl is cheap to make, so dealers sell them as other...