KFF Tracking Poll July 2023: Substance Use Crisis And Accessing Treatment

By Grace Sparks, et al.: Complete Post through this link…

Key Findings

  • With U.S. overdose deaths hitting a new high in 2022, a majority of adults say they have felt the impact of the substance use crisis facing the country. Two-thirds say either they or a family member have been addicted to alcohol or drugs, experienced homelessness due to addiction, or experienced a drug overdose leading to an emergency room visit, hospitalization, or death.
  • Three in ten U.S. adults (29%) say they or someone in their family have ever been addicted to opioids, including prescription painkillers and illegal opioids like heroin. Opioid addiction impacts substantial shares across demographic groups like income and gender but is more commonly reported among rural residents and White adults. Four in ten of those living in rural areas (42%) report they or a family member have experienced opioid addiction compared to smaller shares of those living in suburban (30%) or urban (23%) areas. In addition, a larger share of White adults (33%) compared to Black adults (23%) report personal or familial experience with opioid addiction. About three in ten (28%) Hispanic adults also report they or a family member have experienced opioid addiction.
  • Among those who say they or a family member experienced addiction to prescription painkillers, alcohol, or any illegal drug, less than half (46%) report they or their family member got treatment for the addiction. The share is larger among White adults (51%), compared to Black adults (35%) and Hispanic adults (35%). Three in ten (29%) of those who report a personal or family issue with addiction report receiving in-patient treatment, and a quarter (26%) say they received out-patient treatment. A quarter (25%) of those who say they or a family member experienced opioid addiction, or 7% of all adults, say they or their family member were treated using medication for opioid use disorder such as buprenorphine or methadone.
  • Among the two-thirds who say they or a family member experienced addiction, three-quarters (76%), or 50% of all adults, say it had at least a minor impact on their relationship with their family. Most also say it impacted their mental health or their family’s financial situation. Substantial shares say these were “major” impacts, with about three in ten adults who say so when asked about their mental health (32%) and their family’s financial situation (29%) and about four in ten (42%) when asked about familial relationships.
  • Beyond direct experience with addiction, the poll finds many adults in the U.S. are worried about substance use. For example, half (51%) of adults are worried that someone in their family will experience substance use disorder or an addiction to drugs or alcohol and one-third (32%) are worried that someone in their family will overdose on opioids, such as prescription painkillers or illegal drugs like heroin. About four in ten adults are worried that someone in their family will unintentionally consume the drug fentanyl (39%), and these concerns loom large in rural areas. About half (48%) of those who live in rural areas compared to around four in ten of those in urban (39%) or suburban (37%) areas say they are worried that someone in their family will unintentionally consume the drug.
  • Recent years have brought an increase in awareness of the dangers of opioid addiction and most of those who have been prescribed an opioid painkiller in the past five years (29% of all adults) say their doctor has spoken to them about the various dangers and considerations when taking this class of drugs. This includes their doctor talking to them about possible side-effects (69%), other ways to manage their pain (60%), keeping their medications in a safe place (58%), or the possibility of dependence (57%).
  • When asked about several policies aimed at reducing drug overdoses, a majority support addiction treatment centers in their community (90%) or making Narcan, a medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose, freely available in places likes bars, health clinics, and fire stations (82%) – including about half who “strongly support” either policy. Fewer, but still nearly half (45%), support safe consumption sites, places where people can use illegal drugs with trained personnel in case of emergency. Majorities across partisan identification support addiction centers in their community and making Narcan publicly available, with at least three-quarters of Democrats, Republicans, and independents who support the policies. However, Republicans are less likely to support safe consumption sites, with a quarter of Republicans who say so compared to six in ten (61%) Democrats and half (49%) of independents.

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