Nearly one in three people know someone addicted to opioids

May 8, 2018, American Psychiatric Association
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The opioid crisis continues to weigh heavily on the minds of Americans, according to a new national poll released today by the American Psychiatric Association, (APA). Nearly a third of Americans say they know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers. Nearly half feel it is extremely or somewhat easy to access opioids for illicit use. Americans strongly favor improving access to treatment over imposing stricter punishments to address the problem.

An estimated 2 million people in the United States have a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid pain medication and the number of overdose deaths from prescription and illicit opioids doubled from just over 21,000 in 2010 to more than 42,000 in 2016.

More Americans say they know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers compared to this time last year (31 percent today versus 27 percent in 2017). Nearly half (46 percent) say the opioid crisis is impacting people like them, up from 37 percent in 2017. And nearly one in 10 say they have taken an opioid or prescription painkiller without a prescription. Five percent of U.S. adults say they have abused or been addicted to opioids or , up from 1 percent in 2017, possibly reflecting a greater awareness and willingness to talk about the problem.

The poll also found a growing percent of Americans say it would be easy for someone to access opioids for illicit purposes (46 percent in 2018 versus 39 percent in 2017). People who misuse opioids often get them from a family member or friend who has a prescription. Millennials (52 percent) are more likely to believe it's easy to get opioids than baby boomers (41 percent).

More Americans believe people can recover from an opioid addiction. Four in five Americans believe people can recover, up from 73 percent in 2017. Three-quarters of U.S. adults (74 percent) say they "understand how someone accidentally gets addicted to opioids," up from 69 percent in 2017.

When asked about how policymakers should address the problem, Americans strongly favor improving access to treatment (62 percent) over imposing stricter punishments and enforcement (26 percent).

"Our poll findings show that Americans are increasingly aware of the problem of addiction and increasingly believe people can recover, said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. "The crisis has become personal to many and they want to see treatment available for those affected. We are ready to work with the Administration and Congress to curb this national epidemic."

These findings are from an APA-sponsored poll conducted online using ORC International's CARAVAN Omnibus Survey. The surveys were collected form a nationally representative sample of 1,004 adults during the period March 22-25, 2018 and from a similar of 1,019 adults in April 20-23, 2017. The margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points.

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. ...

More Americans aware of growing problem of opioid addiction

April 5, 2018
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 ...

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 ...

Americans say they are more anxious than a year ago; baby boomers report greatest increase in anxiety

May 8, 2018
Americans' anxiety levels experienced sharp increases in the past year, according to new national poll released today by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Doctors curbing first-time prescriptions for opioids

April 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Although the opioid epidemic continues to rage in America, promising new data show that first-time opioid painkiller prescription rates have slowed in recent years.

How to avoid opioid addiction after surgery

January 30, 2018
(HealthDay)—Following surgery, many patients head home with prescriptions for 30 or more opioid painkillers—enough to trigger addiction, warns a leading group of anesthesiologists.

Recommended for you

Researchers publish study on new therapy to treat opioid use disorder

May 22, 2018
Better delivery of medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) is key to addressing the opioid crisis and helping the 2.6 million Americans affected by the disease.

Could nonprofit drug companies cut sky-high prices?

May 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Generic prescription drugs should be cheap, but prices for some have soared in the United States in recent years. Now a group of U.S. hospitals thinks it has a solution: a nonprofit drug maker.

Fewer antibiotics for kids, but more ADHD drugs

May 15, 2018
(HealthDay)—American kids are taking fewer prescription medications these days—but certain drugs are being prescribed more than ever, a new government study finds.

Opioid makers' perks to docs tied to more prescriptions

May 14, 2018
Doctors who accept perks from companies that make opioid painkillers are more likely to prescribe the drugs for their patients, new research suggests.

Less is more when it comes to prescription opioids for hospital patients, study finds

May 14, 2018
In a pilot study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Yale researchers significantly reduced doses of opioid painkillers given to hospital patients. By delivering the opioids with a shot under the skin or with a pill instead ...

Generic options provide limited savings for expensive drugs

May 7, 2018
Generic drug options did not reduce prices paid for the cancer therapy imatinib (Gleevec), according to a Health Affairs study released today in its May issue.

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.