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Coronavirus Stimulus Checks and Opioid Related Deaths: New Study Shows Connection Between the Two

By Aman Jain. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Coronavirus stimulus checks and opioid related deaths

Coronavirus stimulus checks served as a lifeline for many during the pandemic when unemployment was at its peak and economic activities were at a record low. A new study, however, establishes a potential link between coronavirus stimulus checks and opioid related deaths. This study is specific to Ohio and was conducted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science.


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Coronavirus Stimulus Checks And Opioid Related Deaths: What The Study Says

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released the study last week, called COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments and Opioid Deaths. This study will be published next month by the International Journal of Drug Policy.

The study used the data from the Ohio Department of Health to conclude that a significant jump in opioid related deaths started after the first stimulus checks were delivered. A press release from Yost claims that Ohio witnessed more opioid-related deaths in the second quarter of 2020 since 2010.

“The link between pandemic relief money and opioid overdose deaths is now evident,” Yost said in a statement, adding that the stimulus checks were supposed to “help Americans navigate this deadly pandemic,” but they “also fueled a tidal wave of overdoses.”

A press release from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) also made a similar claim last year. The CDC claimed that over 100,000 Americans died from April 2020 to April 2021 because of opioid overdose. This was 28% more than the previous year, and the highest ever opioid-related deaths since 1999, when the CDC started tracking data about the opioid epidemic.

Moreover, the CDC also found an increase in overdose deaths related to methamphetamines, fentanyl and cocaine. The first stimulus checks were approved in April 2020.

Is There Really A Connection?

As was expected, this study linking coronavirus stimulus checks and opioid related deaths has attracted heavy criticism. Those against the study argue that there could be other reasons for the jump in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as stress and disruption.

Moreover, there were many people who lost jobs and were socially isolated during the pandemic. Similarly, due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing norms, many people were released early from transitional programs or drug treatment programs. Such reasons may have also likely contributed to the spike in opioid overdose cases.

Sen. Teresa Fedor also criticized the study and Yost, saying the study only shows a “correlation, at most” between the coronavirus stimulus checks and opioid related deaths.

“Our responsibility as elected officials is to ensure there is truth behind the words we say. After reviewing the research, I believe that the Attorney General’s claims are false,” the senator said in a tweet.

This isn’t the first time there have been discussions over the side effects of federal benefits. In fact, the term “check effect,” which is now being used to establish a potential link between coronavirus stimulus checks and opioid related deaths, is a ten year old term. This term is often used to describe individuals using disability payments or government subsidies to buy illegal alcohol and drugs.

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