Tackling the Substance Abuse Crisis: The Role of Access to Treatment Facilities
The continuing drug overdose crisis in the U.S. has highlighted the urgent need for greater access to treatment. This paper examines the impact of openings and closings of substance abuse treatment facilities in New Jersey on emergency room visits for substance abuse issues among nearby residents. We find that drug-related ER visits increase by 16.6% after a facility closure and decrease by 9.5% after an opening. The effects are largest in relatively under-served areas, among Black residents, and among males. They are smaller for the middle aged than for either younger or older people. The results suggest that expanding access to treatment results in significant reductions in morbidity related to drug abuse.
We would like to thank Barbara Bolden, Darrin Goldman, and Yong Sung Lee from the New Jersey Department of Health, Sarah Kaplan from the New Jersey Department of Human Services, and Siobhan Dugan from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for assistance in accessing the data. Hamzah Shah and Sungho Park contributed excellent research assistance. All interpretations and any errors are solely our own responsibility. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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