Unfortunately, the United States has been affected by the opioid crisis in numerous ways. This includes the reduction in life expectancy, distrust for the physician’s and prescriptions given, and with participation in the labor force as well.

A recent Cleveland Fed study looks much closer at the average around the nation for rates of opioid prescriptions given between 2000 to 2016. The study looks at how these prescriptions contribute to reductions in the rates of participation in the labor force.

According to Mark Schweitzer, Cleveland Fed senior vice president, “What we see is substantial effects for prime-age men and women.” He also stated that when he thinks about the results, there is a problem, mainly with the prime age men that have lower than a college education. That is the area of the population that is seeing the biggest effects from the opioid epidemic.

A RAND Drug Policy Center expert, not someone from the study, said the data was very important to the drug epidemic.

Men Abuse Opioid Drugs Twice as Much as Women

This study shows that prescription opioids accounted for 44% of the decreased national participation in men’s labor force from 2001 to 2015. It also accounted for a decline of 17% for women in their prime age as well.

While the methods used for gathering this data didn’t show why men were more affected than the women, according to Schweitzer, the evidence does come from the national data from opioid abuse rates. This shows men abuse opioid drugs twice as much as women.

During 1999, opioid overdose deaths for males was 4.3 for every 100,000 people. For women, the opioid overdose deaths was 1.4 for every 100,000 people. The number raised to 20.4 for every 100,000 males and 9.4 for every 100,000 females during 2017.

Schweitzer doesn’t know the reason men are abusing opioids more than women. However, he states that the evidence and data definitely show men who have a lower education have higher effects on the participation in the labor force. In addition, he mentioned how difficult it was to separate abuse of opioids from different factors that might affect the participation in the labor force. One example would be recessions.

Schweitzer noted that they are trying to work on analyzing the amount of people who work and what response they have to living or working in counties with higher opioid abuse levels. This is being done from the time frames 2006 through 2016. Now, a recession did occur during this period. Recession does make a difference when thinking about the outcomes of employment. People want to control this.

Difficulties Teasing Out

In addition, during this study, it was noted there were certain regions that persistently affect various outcomes in the labor market. These aren’t just functions of the shocks in the business cycle either.

For example, places such as the Appalachians have seen persistent labor markets that are weak. They have also seen higher opioid prescription levels along with opioid related deaths. This shows that correlation doesn’t always equal the causation. There is no clear statement of what was first – weak labor markets or persistent opioid usage.

More Meanings of This Study

As you have read, this study does show there are correlations between weak labor markets and opioid prescription abuse. However, it is tough to tell what came first. The main thing to realize is that people who abuse drugs have a reduction in labor market performance and people who have a reduction in performance at work may have a higher chance of abusing drugs as well.

Reading into this study can help people to become more aware of the opioid epidemic. It can help them to look more into the effects on the labor market. It might even help some people to get the help they need with their addiction.

Addictions to any substance can be tough to overcome, this is especially true for prescription opioids. If you are taking these types of opioids, be sure to reach out for the help you need. There are many places where you can get addiction treatment. There are outpatient and inpatient addiction treatment centers where you can get help. Take this study and recognize the data of it. There are many areas that have been hit worse by the opioid epidemic. However, this isn’t to say that everywhere could use some help. If you have an addiction to opioids, make the decision to get help and treatment right away.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.