Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Linda S. Ghent


This paper is a cross-sectional analysis of the demand for prescription painkillers. Demand was broken down into illegal adult use of painkillers, illegal adolescent use, and legal prescriptions per capita for each state. Data for 2012 were taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the National Prescription Audit as well as from other sources such as the Census Bureau. Prescription drug monitoring programs were found to decrease illegal use, while medical marijuana laws and poverty rates increased legal use and use among teens. Both white population and number of officers decreased illegal use among adults, but increased legal demand. Regions with more very religious people saw increased legal demand, while regions with higher education rates saw decreased demand. Single mothers reduced illegal use among teens. Future studies should look at demand over a longer period of time and try to find measures of illegal use with more variation.