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VOLUME 54 | NUMBER 2 | APRIL 2019


Good Samaritan harm reduction policy and drug overdose deaths

Objective: To examine the effects of a harm reduction policy, specifically Good Samaritan (GS) policy, on overdose deaths.

Data Sources/Study Setting: Secondary data from multiple cause of death, mortality records paired with state harm reduction and substance use prevention policy.

Study Design: We estimate fixed effects Poisson count models to model the effect of GS policy on overdose deaths for all, prescription, and illicit drugs, controlled substances, and opioids, while controlling for other harm reduction and substance use prevention policies.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods: We merge secondary data sources by state and year between 1999 and 2016.

Principal findings: We fail to identify a statistically significant effect of GS policy in reducing overdose deaths broadly.

Conclusions: While we are unable to identify an effect of GS policy on overdose deaths, GS policy may have important effects on firststage outcomes not investigated in this paper. Given recent state policy changes and rapid increase in many categories of overdose deaths, additional research should continue to examine the implementation and effects of harm reduction policy specifically and substance use prevention policy broadly.

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