More Americans aware of growing problem of opioid addiction

April 5, 2018, University of Chicago

A new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals the number of Americans who see opioid addiction as a significant issue for their community today is up significantly over just two years ago. Forty-three percent of Americans now say the misuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem, compared with 33 percent in 2016.

A majority of Americans report having experience with substance abuse of various types, and 13 percent have had a relative or close friend die from an . Although 53 percent of the public sees as a disease, many regard such addiction as a behavioral failing. Forty-four percent say opioid addiction indicates a lack of willpower or discipline; 32 percent say it is caused by a character defect or bad parenting, and less than 1 in 5 Americans are willing to associate closely with a friend, colleague or neighbor who is addicted to . This indicates that stigma surrounding opioid addiction is an issue.

The findings are among many in a survey exploring attitudes and awareness of Americans about the opioid epidemic in particular and drug misuse in general, as well as how to address the crisis.

"In the national effort to grapple with the enormous issue of opioid addiction, it is important to know the level of awareness and understanding of Americans who find themselves in the midst of an epidemic that is claiming growing numbers of lives," said Caitlin Oppenheimer, senior of public health at NORC. "This survey provides important, and in some cases troubling, information."

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Two-thirds of respondents say their community is not doing enough to make treatment programs accessible and affordable or to find improved methods of treating addiction.
  • Sixty-four percent would like to see more effort to crack down on drug dealers.
  • Fifty-seven percent of Americans have experience dealing with substance misuse ranging from taking a painkiller that wasn't prescribed to overdosing.
  • Twenty-four percent say they have an addicted relative, close friend, or that they themselves are addicted to opioids.

"The number of people who recognize how serious the is in this nation is growing," said Trevor Tompson, vice president for public affairs research at NORC. "There is clearly a continuing challenge to ensure that what is learned about the crisis is grounded in fact."

Facebook is the dominant source of information on social media about the crisis. Of the 74 percent of adults who use Facebook, 41 percent say they have seen messages about opioids or about death from overdoses. Fewer users of other platforms report seeing such information.

Explore further: Americans favor treatment, not enforcement, to address opioid crisis

Related Stories

Americans favor treatment, not enforcement, to address opioid crisis

May 23, 2017
Many Americans have been directly touched by the opioid crisis—more than a quarter of Americans and more than a third of millennials, report knowing someone who has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers. ...

US surgeon general urges Americans to carry opioid antidote

April 5, 2018
The top US doctor on Thursday urged more Americans to carry naloxone, an antidote to opioid overdose, as the nation grapples with a surge in deaths due to potent prescription painkillers and heroin.

U.S. doctors still writing too many opioid prescriptions

August 1, 2017
(HealthDay)—More than one out of three average Americans used a prescription opioid in 2015, despite growing concerns these medicines are promoting widespread addiction and overdose deaths, according to a study published ...

Opioid abuse down in younger americans, but up among older adults

July 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—While opioid abuse has fallen among younger Americans, the same cannot be said for older adults, a new government report shows.

Opioid overdoses in ERs up 30 percent as crisis worsens

March 6, 2018
Emergency rooms saw a big jump in overdoses from opioids last year—the latest evidence the nation's drug crisis is getting worse.

3 Native American tribes sue opioid industry groups

January 9, 2018
Three Native American tribes in the Dakotas are suing opioid manufacturers and distributors, alleging they concealed and minimized the addiction risk of prescription drugs.

Recommended for you

Opioids given too easily to children: study

July 16, 2018
(HealthDay)—Many children are prescribed powerful opioid painkillers they don't really need, putting them and those around them at risk, a new study shows.

Study reveals opioid patients face multiple barriers to treatment

July 12, 2018
In areas of the country disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis, treatment programs are less likely to accept patients paying through insurance of any type or accept pregnant women, a new Vanderbilt study found.

Report details possible conflict of interest issues for FDA advisors

July 6, 2018
Charles Piller, a contributing correspondent for the journal Science, has published a Feature piece in the journal detailing what he describes as possible conflicts of interest issues by people who serve as advisors to the ...

Opioid epidemic responses overlook gender

July 5, 2018
Yale health experts warn that current efforts to confront the growth of opioid addiction and overdose deaths must better incorporate an understanding of how women fit into this epidemic.

Study finds no strong evidence that cannabis reduces chronic pain

July 4, 2018
A four-year study suggests medicinal cannabis is not as effective at relieving chronic non-cancer pain as commonly assumed.

Expanding primary care buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdose crisis

July 4, 2018
Expanding the availability of medication treatment for opioid use disorder in primary care settings would be a major step toward reducing overdose deaths, write two physicians specializing in addiction medicine and health ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.