How is opioid use trending over time? Amongst people who filed for Social Safety Incapacity Insurance coverage (SSDI), a paper by Maestas et al. (2022) finds that:
…the prevalence of opioid use amongst SSDI candidates declined from 33 p.c in 2013 to 24 p.c in 2018. Against this, the share of candidates reporting musculoskeletal impairments, that are generally related to continual ache, was unchanged throughout this era.
One key query is whether or not the usage of opioids results in kind of submitting for incapacity? On the one hand, if opioids assist individuals management continual ache, they are able to retain their employment and should keep away from submitting for incapacity; alternatively, opioids are addictive and opioid abuse could improve the chance people observe for incapacity. A paper by Maestas and Sherry (2022) appears at this relationship. They use variation in well being care suppliers’ opioid prescribing preferences (e.g., variations in dosage and length) that aren’t defined by affected person observable affected person traits. Nevertheless, this strategy assumes that this cross-provider variation in supplier prescribing practices is because of variations in doctor preferences quite than unobservable (within the knowledge however to not physicians) variations in common ache severity throughout sufferers. Regardless of this limitation, the examine finds that:
…in areas with a better opioid prescribing propensity, employment and wages are decrease. Particularly, 10 extra opioid prescriptions per 100 adults in an area space result in a 1.6 p.c lower in employment and a 6 p.c lower within the common weekly wage, relative to the pattern common. Additional, a rise of 10 prescriptions per 100 adults is related to an 8 p.c improve in SSDI purposes, a ten p.c improve in purposes mentioning opioid use, and a 6 p.c improve within the likelihood that an software is allowed on the preliminary overview, relative to imply values.
These research are summarized within the newest version of the NBER’s Bulletin on Retirement and Incapacity.