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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – A new study links an increase in opioid overdose deaths to economic stimulus checks.

The study, by the Ohio Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science, has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by the International Journal of Drug Policy for April 2022, according to a press release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The study tracked spikes in opioid-related overdose deaths during the second quarter of 2020.

The spike coincided with the release of federal stimulus payments.

The study used data from the Ohio Department of Health.

According to the press release, more people in Ohio died of opioid overdoses than at any point in a decade.

Nationally, there were 100,000 opioid overdose deaths from April 2020 to April 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

The attorney general’s office says that is the most recorded deaths from opioids ever recorded in a 12-month period.

It is a 28% increase over the 78,085 deaths from April 2019 to April 2020.

“The link between pandemic relief money and opioid overdose deaths is now evident,” Ohio Attorney General Yost said. “The intent was to help Americans navigate this deadly pandemic but it also fueled a tidal wave of overdoses.”   

The study was conducted by a team led by Dr. Jon Sprague, Director of Science and Research for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Eminent Scholar at Bowling Green State University.

You can check out the study here.

The authors described the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the opioid epidemic as a “perfect storm” for people with opioid addictions, whose stressors were aggravated by social isolation, loss of income and decreased access to medication treatment for opioid use disorder.

“Throwing money at a problem isn’t always the best solution,” Yost said. “Let the data be the guide to learn from the past. Addiction is a sickness you can’t cure with just cash.”