The Effects of Naloxone Access Laws on Opioid Abuse, Mortality, and Crime

78 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2018 Last revised: 5 Dec 2022

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 12, 2021


The U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of opioid abuse. In response, states have implemented a variety of policies including increased access to naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered during an overdose. There is a concern that widespread naloxone access may unintentionally lead to increased or riskier opioid use by reducing the risk of death from overdose, however. In this paper, we use the staggered timing of state-level naloxone access laws as a natural experiment to measure the effects of broadening access to this lifesaving drug. We find that broadened access led to more opioid-related emergency room visits and more opioid-related theft, with no net measurable reduction in opioid-related mortality. We conclude that naloxone has a clear and important role in harm-reduction, yet its ability to combat the opioid epidemic's death toll may be limited without complementary efforts.

JEL Classification: I18, K42, D81

Suggested Citation

Doleac, Jennifer L. and Mukherjee, Anita, The Effects of Naloxone Access Laws on Opioid Abuse, Mortality, and Crime (August 12, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jennifer L. Doleac (Contact Author)

Arnold Ventures ( email )

1717 West Loop South
Suite 1800
Houston, TX 77027
United States

Anita Mukherjee

Wisconsin School of Business ( email )

975 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
United States


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