State COVID-19 Policies and Drug Overdose Mortality Among Working-Age Adults in the United States, 2020

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Objectives. To identify relationships between US states' COVID-19 in-person activity limitation and economic support policies and drug overdose deaths among working-age adults in 2020. Methods. We used county-level data on 140 435 drug overdoses among adults aged 25 to 64 years during January 2019 to December 2020 from the National Vital Statistics System and data on states' COVID-19 policies from the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker to assess US trends in overdose deaths by sex in 3138 counties. Results. Policies limiting in-person activities significantly increased, whereas economic support policies significantly decreased, overdose rates. A 1-unit increase in policies restricting activities predicted a 15% average monthly increase in overdose rates for men (incident rate ratio [IRR] = 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.09, 1.20) and a 14% increase for women (IRR = 1.14; 95% CI = 1.09, 1.20). A 1-unit increase in economic support policies predicted a 3% average monthly decrease for men (IRR = 0.97; 95% CI = 0.95, 1.00) and a 4% decrease for women (IRR = 0.96; 95% CI = 0.93, 0.99). All states' policy combinations are predicted to have increased drug-poisoning mortality. Conclusions. The economic supports that states enacted were insufficient to fully mitigate the adverse relationship between activity limitations and drug overdoses. (Am J Public Health. 2024;114(7):714-722.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-722
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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