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New paper by Bilge Erten & Shuo Zhang on opioid misuse effects on Intimate Partner Violence

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New NBER working paper "From Addiction to Aggression: The Spillover Effects of Opioid Policies on Intimate Partner Violence" shows that reformulation of OxyContin led to a significant decline in violence against women by intimate partners, but the overall decline in intimate partner violence masks an uptick in heroin-involved Intimate Partner Violence.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common form of violence experienced by women, and imposes adverse health consequences for victims and their children. The annual economic burden of IPV amounts to over $4.1 trillion, a substantial share of which is borne by the public sector. Despite documented associations pointing to partner violence and substance abuse being intertwined public health issues, we know very little about this connection when it comes to opioids. We address this knowledge gap, and provide the first study of the downstream effects of a key supply-side intervention – the abuse-deterrent reformulation of one of the most widely diverted opioids, OxyContin – on intimate partner violence. Capitalizing on administrative data on reported incidents by female victims to law enforcement combined with a quasi-experimental research design, we find robust evidence that the reformulation led to a significant decline in IPV exposure by females. Heterogeneity analyses suggest that sub-populations (non-Hispanic Whites; younger adults) and localities (lower-educated; high poverty) which experienced higher rates of opioid prescribing and misuse at baseline, accrued the largest benefits in terms of lower IPV rates. The overall decline in IPV, however, masks a notable uptick in heroin-involved IPV, underscoring the importance of identifying populations at a higher risk of substitution to illicit opioids post-reformulation and mitigating this risk with evidence-based policies.

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