Majority of Americans Say Drug Addiction is a Disease: Poll

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The results of a recent poll indicate that a majority of Americans (53 percent) feel prescription drug addiction is a disease. The survey, conducted by the Associate Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, also revealed that most respondents wouldn’t welcome drug addicts into their own families, neighborhoods or workplaces.

It wouldn’t be an understatement to describe Americans’ view of addictions as a complicated one. The opioid epidemic continues to effect communities nationwide, with more than one person in 10 saying they know someone (relative or a close friend) who has died from an opioid overdose.

Opioid Addiction Effects US Life Expectancy

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes prescription pain medications (oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl) and illicit drugs (heroin). Over 42,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdoses in 2016, an increase of 28 percent over the previous year.

The opioid crisis, with the resulting loss of life, has decreased national life expectancy for US residents for the second year in a row in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This sign is in contrast to other developed nations, where life expectancy is on the rise.

Kaiser Family Foundation has also released the results of its own 2016 study, which found large employers spent $2.6 million to treat opioid addiction and overdoses. This amount has grown eightfold since 2004 and has reached a record level.

Americans “Wary” of Addicts

Even though most Americans understand that addiction is a treatable condition, they are still guarded about interacting with addicts. Less than one in five survey respondents said they were willing to “closely associate” someone with a drug addiction, whether that person was a friend, neighbor or a co-worker.

Many of the respondents stated they see drug misuse as a moral failing on the part of the addict. One-third stated opioid addiction is a sign of a character flaw and 44 percent said it was a sign of lack of willpower.

The AP-NORC poll was conducted March 14-19 with 1,054 adult respondents using a random sample designed represent the US population. The respondents were chosen using address-based sampling and were interviewed by phone or online. Margin of error is +/-4.1%.