Nuisance Ordinances and Overdose Mortality

55 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2022

See all articles by Ashley C. Bradford

Ashley C. Bradford

Indiana University - School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Date Written: September 28, 2022


Nuisance ordinances are municipal-level laws which penalize landowners, often financially, for tenants who exhibit any behavior that has been defined as a nuisance (such as repeated calls to 911, assault, or drug-related activity). These policies, aimed at discouraging unwanted behavior and reducing police department burden, force landowners to abate the nuisance in order to prevent the penalty. Often, the means of abatement is eviction. Thus, nuisance ordinances might discourage tenants from calling 911 for assistance in a variety of situations (including substance-use related emergencies) in order to avoid increasing the likelihood of an eviction, or may directly increase the rate of evictions regardless of 911 hesitancy. If either outcome occurs, we would expect an increase in substance-use related mortality. This study explores the relationship between nuisance ordinances and drug-related mortality rates using data on all nuisance ordinances in Ohio from 1999 to 2017. I find that these laws cause an increase in county-level mortality rates from accidental opioid-, alcohol-, cocaine-, and benzodiazepine-related overdoses. I also find evidence that nuisance ordinances lead to increases in city-level eviction rates and have a greater impact on dead-on-arrival deaths compared to deaths occurring in hospitals, potentially explaining two pathways between nuisance ordinance adoption and drug-related mortality events. This is the first study to investigate an important unintended consequence of nuisance ordinances which could undermine policies previously found to reduce overdose mortality.

Funding Information: None.

Conflict of Interests: None.

Keywords: nuisance ordinances, drug mortality, eviction

Suggested Citation

Bradford, Ashley C., Nuisance Ordinances and Overdose Mortality (September 28, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Ashley C. Bradford (Contact Author)

Indiana University - School of Public and Environmental Affairs ( email )

1315 East 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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