Stigma and Attribution in the Opioid Crisis

How does blaming individuals or other actors for the opioid crisis affect views about drug policy?. In this paper, I use a survey experiment to test whether providing news articles about doctors and pharmaceutical companies being held accountable for their role in the opioid crisis increases support for public health-oriented policies and decreases support for criminalization. I find that providing information about doctors’ role in the opioid crisis increases support for stricter sentences on people who buy or sell opioids illegally, while this prime does not affect support for medication-assisted treatment or safe injection sites. This effect is concentrated among respondents with the highest level of stigma against people with opioid use disorders (OUDs). Priming blame for drug companies, however, does not change support for any policy. In the discussion, I suggest potential explanations for these findings, as well as avenues for potential future research on attribution.

Chris Chaky
Ph.D. in Government

I recently completed my Ph.D. in Government at Harvard University, where I studied American politics. My main research interests are public health, criminal justice, public opinion, and urban and local politics.