Are Stimulus Checks to Blame for Additional Drug Overdoses?

Biden Stimulus

Are Stimulus Checks to Blame for Additional Drug Overdoses?

The founder of a pair of recovery programs in West Virginia told TV station WVNS that he saw a connection between the arrival of the stimulus and a recent uptick in drug overdoses in Southern West Virginia.

 

The arrival of stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan has been connected with all sorts of societal phenomena, from a lack of interest in fast food job openings to the potential for rising inflation.

Now, there’s an idea out there that the arrival of stimulus has had another effect: That it’s causing addicts to relapse.

 

The founder of a pair of recovery programs in West Virginia told TV station WVNS that he saw a connection between the arrival of the stimulus and a recent uptick in drug overdoses in Southern West Virginia.

“Everybody that gets a bonus of money, does something with it that makes them feel good, and addicts are no exception of that. Anybody struggling with some type of addiction, is going to fall into that same trap,” Leon Brush told the TV station.

Brush told WVNS that while there have been more overdoses of late, there have been fewer applications to his recovery programs. That’s because addicts can continue their habit while they have money, although he expects applications to increase once stimulus payouts slow.

This follows a horrible story from Kentucky earlier this month when, per WLWT, a mother was arrested and charged with murder after her two-year-old son overdosed on her fentanyl. The woman had admitted to authorities that she purchased the drugs in Cincinnati after receiving her stimulus check.

This is not the first time this connection has been made, with News Channel 5 in Nashville also pointing out concerns about an uptick in overdoses when the second stimulus check round arrived in late 2020. Fox News reported on a similar phenomenon back in March.

"We definitely believe that there’s a correlation between the recent stimulus checks that were sent out and the overdoses we’re seeing right now," Lauren Cummings, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, told Fox News at the time. "We saw an increase in overdoses after the first round of stimulus payouts. We annually see an increase in overdoses following tax returns.”

It’s not clear if any academic studies have been done on whether there really is a causation, or merely a correlation, between the arrival of government stimulus funds leads to an increase in drug overdoses.

But it’s also worth noting that there has been an opioid epidemic for several years, and that there were also upticks in drug overdose deaths during the pandemic lockdowns.

It’s also notable that if stimulus checks are distributed universally to American citizens, some of that money is inevitably going to be spent on unhealthy things, and that an uptick in overdose deaths shouldn’t necessarily be construed as an argument against stimulus efforts themselves.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.