Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

W. Fielding Rubel School of Business



Major Advisor

Dr. Mike Ackerman

Second Advisor

Dr. Frank Raymond

Third Advisor

Dr. McCrickard


Addictive diseases such as those stemming from the use of alcohol, cocaine and opioids lead to serious negative consequences at both the individual and societal level. Over the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in opioid prescriptions and addiction. The potential for addiction is related to factors that include genetics, prescriber behavior, user behavior and characteristics, in addition to environmental and systemic determinants. One measure of the seriousness of the opioid epidemic is the number of overdose deaths. In 2017, drug overdoses killed over seventy thousand Americans, and overdose deaths are projected to increase in the future. Despite the risk of addiction and overdose, opioids are commonly prescribed to combat pain. This paper uses cross-sectional county and state level data to examine the socioeconomic, demographic, and community level factors that are important in explaining opioid overdose deaths.