Economic Conditions, Illicit Drug Use, and Substance Use Disorders in the United States

40 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2016 Last revised: 7 Oct 2021

See all articles by Christopher S. Carpenter

Christopher S. Carpenter

University of California, Irvine - Paul Merage School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Chandler B McCellan

Government of the United States of America - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); AHRQ - Center for Financing, Access & Cost Trends

Daniel I. Rees

University of Colorado Denver; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

We provide the first analysis of the relationship between economic conditions and the use of illicit drugs other than marijuana. Drawing on US data from 2002-2013, we find mixed evidence with regard to the cyclicality of illicit drug use. However, there is strong evidence that economic downturns lead to increases in substance use disorders involving hallucinogens and prescription pain relievers. These effects are robust to a variety of specification choices and are concentrated among prime-age white males with low educational attainment. We conclude that the returns to spending on the treatment of substance use disorders are particularly high during economic downturns.

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Christopher S. and McClellan, Chandler B and McClellan, Chandler B and Rees, Daniel I., Economic Conditions, Illicit Drug Use, and Substance Use Disorders in the United States (February 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22051, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2739591

Christopher S. Carpenter (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Paul Merage School of Business ( email )

Paul Merage School of Business
Irvine, CA California 92697-3125
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Chandler B McClellan

Government of the United States of America - Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) ( email )

1 Choke Cherry Rd
Rockville, MD 20857
United States

AHRQ - Center for Financing, Access & Cost Trends ( email )

540 Gaither Road
Rockville, MD 20850
United States

Daniel I. Rees

University of Colorado Denver ( email )

Campus Box 181
P.O. Box 173364
Denver, CO 80218
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
25
Abstract Views
325
PlumX Metrics