What has been driving America’s opioid problem?

Matt Yglesias had an excellent (gated) Substack on this question lately, now Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner and Karen A. Kopecky have a new and quite valuable paper.  I found this to be the most interesting segment:

Through the eyes of the model, there were two key forces.  The first force is the decline in prices for bot prescription and black market opioids.  This had a big effect.  The second force is the increase in the dosages per prescription meted out by doctors.  This also had a significant impact.  The fact that doctors kept pain sufferers on prescription opioids for a longer period of time had little effect.  Last, an analysis is conducted on medical interventions that reduce either the probability of becoming addicted or the odds of an addict dying from an overdose.  Reducing the odds of addiction can result in even more deaths due to the rise in users.

The opioid problem is a very difficult one to solve!  I should stress that the paper has other results of interest.


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