Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



System theory, Opioids -- Research -- United States, Opioid abuse -- Prevention, Opioid abuse -- Forecasting


A dramatic rise in the nonmedical of pharmaceutical opioids has presented the United States with a substantial public health problem. Nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers has become increasingly prevalent in the US over the last two decades, and diversion of medicines obtained by prescription is assumed to be a major source of supply for nonmedical opioid use. Policymakers striving to protect population health by ameliorating the adverse outcomes of nonmedical use of opioid analgesics could benefit from a systems-level model which reflects the complexity of the system and incorporates the full range of available data. To address this need, the current project describes the conceptualization and development of a System Dynamics model that is used to complement and leverage results from existing research. Additional testing is needed to authenticate preliminary intervention simulation results, which suggest that a reduction in the initiation of nonmedical use may have a more profound impact on the total number of opioid overdose deaths than more tamper-resistant formulations, decreases in opioid prescribing, or decreases in rates of abuse among medical users. Results indicate that System Dynamics can help to identify points of high leverage for policy interventions as well as bring attention to the unanticipated negative consequences of these interventions.


Presented at the 29th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Washington, D.C.

Persistent Identifier