Alcohol outlets, drug paraphernalia sales, and neighborhood drug overdose

Elizabeth D. Nesoff, Adam J. Milam, Christopher Morrison, Brian W. Weir, Charles C. Branas, Debra M. Furr-Holden, Amy R. Knowlton, Silvia S. Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Alcohol outlets have been associated with various forms of injury and may contribute to neighborhood disparities in drug overdose. Few studies have examined the associations between alcohol outlets and drug overdose. This study investigated whether alcohol outlets were associated with the neighborhood drug overdose rate and whether the sale of drug paraphernalia contributes to this association. Methods: A cross-sectional ecological spatial analysis was conducted within census block groups in Baltimore City (n = 653). Outcomes were counts of EMS calls for any drug overdose in 2015 (n = 3,856). Exposures of interest were counts of alcohol outlets licensed for off-premise and on-premise consumption and the proportion of off-premise outlets selling drug paraphernalia (e.g., blunt wrappers, baggies, pipes). Negative binomial regression was used to assess the relationship between outlet count and overdose rate, and if paraphernalia sales altered this relationship, controlling for other neighborhood factors. Spatial autocorrelation was assessed and regression inference adjusted accordingly. Results: Each additional off-premise alcohol outlet was associated with a 16.6% increase in the neighborhood overdose rate (IRR=1.17, 95%CI=(1.11, 1.23)), adjusted for other neighborhood variables. On-premise alcohol outlets were not significantly associated with overdose rate when adjusting for off-premise alcohol outlets (IRR=1.01, 95% CI=(0.97, 1.06)). The proportion of off-premise outlets that sold drug paraphernalia was negatively associated with overdose rate (IRR=0.55, 95% CI=(0.41, 0.74)) and did not alter the relationship between off-premise outlets and overdose. Conclusion: This study provides preliminary public health evidence for informing policy decisions about alcohol outlet licensing and zoning. Alcohol outlets could be potential community partners for harm reduction strategies such as health communication in identifying overdose symptoms or Good Samaritan Laws.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103289
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Alcohol outlets
  • Drug overdose
  • Neighborhoods
  • Paraphernalia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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