More Americans aware of growing problem of opioid addiction

April 05, 2018

CHICAGO, 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 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 opioid overdose. Although 53 percent of the public sees prescription drug addiction 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 prescription drugs. 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 vice president of public health at NORC. "This survey provides important, and in some cases troubling, information."

Additional findings from the survey include:

"The number of people who recognize how serious the opioid epidemic 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 opioid 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.
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About the Survey

The nationwide survey of 1,054 adults used AmeriSpeak, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Interviews were conducted between March 14 and 19, 2018, online and using landlines and cell phones. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.1 percentage points. The AmeriSpeak Panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97 percent of the U.S. household population.

About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world. http://www.apnorc.org

The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. http://www.ap.org

NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. http://www.norc.org

The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at young-eric@norc.org or 703-217-6814 (cell) or Lauren Easton for AP at leaston@ap.org.

NORC at the University of Chicago

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