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03.14.2016

The Economy and its Connection to Drug Use

Desperation The effects of an economy can be felt throughout the entire country. Employment, family life, education and real estate can all be influenced by the economy and now it has been discovered that drug abuse fluctuates as the economy does. The revelation that these two phenomena have an influence on each other may allow experts to better predict drug patterns and prevent people from succumbing to the allure of drugs.

“There is a strong evidence that economic downturns lead to increases in substance use disorders involving hallucinogens and prescription pain relievers,” commented the authors of the study conducted by Vanderbilt University, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the University of Colorado Denver.

It may not come as a surprise to most people that when the economy is not doing well, people can turn to drugs to forget about their troubles. However, when the economy is doing well certain drugs are more popular. For instance, LSD or other hallucinogens are used more when the economy is thriving.

There have been other studies in the past regarding the state of the economy and drug use, but it has mostly revolved around marijuana use. In this particular study, the researchers wanted to stay away from marijuana and focus on other illicit drugs, such as heroin, prescription painkillers, hallucinogens and benzodiazepines.

“Our results are important for understanding optimal policy responses to economic booms and busts,” they write. “Most debates over public funding for drug treatment, penalties for illicit drug use, and other drug policy levers ignore the role of economic conditions. Our results highlight the perils of this omission,” wrote the authors, whose paper appears in the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Understanding the connections between drugs and the economy is important because oftentimes when the country is facing a slow economy, drug treatment is one of the first areas to get their funding cut. If policymakers understood that more American citizens were abusing drugs, in part because of the poor economy, funding for drug and alcohol treatment may not get cut. As economic cycles are inevitable, it is vital that the country becomes proactive to the threat that drugs pose by increasing education and funding.

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