Beyond the brink: Unraveling the opioid crisis and its profound impacts

Econ Hum Biol. 2024 Apr:53:101379. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2024.101379. Epub 2024 Mar 28.


This paper examines the long-standing and severe public health crisis, the opioid epidemic in the United States, which has been worsening since the mid-1990s. In contrast to previous research, it investigates the broader impacts of this epidemic, particularly on family members and healthcare systems. Using a comprehensive dataset spanning from 1998 to 2010, the study analyzes opioid use at the three-digit ZIP code level, utilizing data from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and individual-level data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in a two-way fixed effect model. The findings reveal significant negative effects on family caregivers, notably adult children, due to the opioid epidemic. Additionally, opioid exposure is associated with increased healthcare utilization, including home health care and hospital use. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of the multifaceted consequences of the opioid epidemic.

Keywords: Adult helpers; Healthcare; Informal care; Opioid use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid Epidemic*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology