New Poll Reveals Americans’ Views on Drug Addiction

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american views on addictionFirst, the good news: 53 percent of Americans view drug addiction as a medical problem and most think their local community can do more to address the problem, according to a recent survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Now, the bad: Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans are willing to closely associate with someone suffering from drug addiction as a friend, co-worker or neighbor. And this is despite the fact more than 1 in 10 Americans say they have had a relative or close friend die from an opioid overdose.

And, the really bad: Forty-four percent of those surveyed say opioid addiction indicates a lack of willpower or discipline, and a third say it is a character flaw. Fifty-five percent favor a “crackdown” on those who misuse drugs.

“If somebody is afflicted with heart disease or cancer then everybody brings that person or their family a casserole, but if someone is afflicted with addiction then they don’t have the same community support,” Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana Wen, told Detroit News.

While this survey was small – 1,054 adults randomly selected using address-based sampling – the results echo what many of us in the addiction community already know: there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done to stop the stigma of addiction.

“When something is stigmatized nobody wants to bring it up, so therefore people who need the help are less willing to come forward,” addiction specialist Dr. Corey Waller, told Detroit News.

The latest federal figures show that only 1 in 5, out of the 2.1 million Americans with opioid addiction, receive specialized treatment. And the numbers of individuals who need help is continuing to grow.

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