Author (Your Name)

Caroline DunsbyFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Erin Giffin

Second Advisor

Michael Donihue


Naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan, is a medication that reverses the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose. Amidst the opioid epidemic that has taken tens of thousands of lives each year, many policies have been enacted to increase the public's access to naloxone, allowing non-medical personnel to save lives. There have been two distinct reactions to these policies. Those that support the policies state that harm reduction measures are necessary to save lives. Those that oppose the policies claim that by providing naloxone, states may be increasing risky opioid use - suggesting that naloxone leads to moral hazard. I examine this idea theoretically. Using an expected utility model, I model an individual's decision to use opioids. I show that individuals choose to take higher quantities of opioids as the probability of receiving naloxone increases. I also investigate the motivation behind an individual's choice to choose a ``riskier" but cheaper opioid and find that individuals are willing to make this switch to cheaper and riskier substitutes when the decrease in prices sufficiently offsets the difference in risk, or if naloxone access is sufficiently high. This analysis can be used to inform policy recommendations in the future as many U.S. states focus on increasing the public's access to naloxone. Recommendations will differ depending on if the focus is harm reduction or the mitigation of potential moral hazard.


Economics, Naloxone, Narcan, Expected Utility, Opioids, Moral Hazard, Opioid Epidemic