Blog/Drugs and Alcohol

Blog/ Drugs and Alcohol
The opioid epidemic -- which President Donald Trump recently declared a national emergency -- continues to destroy communities, families and lives at an alarming rate. Deaths from prescription opioid abuse have more than quadrupled since 1999, and more than four in 10 Americans say prescription painkillers are a "crisis" or "very serious problem" where they live. And new research suggests that the opioid abuse could be dragging down the economy by keeping Americans out of the workforce.

Since 1972, Gallup has asked U.S. adults 14 times to assess how much progress the U.S. has made "over the last year or two in coping with the problem of illegal drugs." Since 2003, opinions have been divided but stable. Currently, 5% of Americans say the nation has made "much" progress, 33% say "some" progress, 26% say it has "stood still," 19% say it has lost "some ground" and 14% say "much ground."
 
The latest results are based on Gallup's annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 1-10, shortly after Congress passed sweeping legislation meant to prevent opioid addiction and help those who are addicted. The final bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Oct. 24, received broad bipartisan support and could explain the bump in the public's view that the nation is making progress. Additionally, a number of states have passed legislation aimed at tackling the opioid epidemic, and those actions may be influencing Americans' views.

Gallup's question asks broadly about "illegal drugs," but given the magnitude of the opioid crisis in the U.S., it is likely that opioids are one of the top drugs Americans think of when they hear the term "illegal drugs." Last year, more than 72,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses, and opioids were involved in about two-thirds of those deaths. Since 2013, opioids have nearly doubled as a cause of overdose deaths, but government data suggest that opioid overdose deaths may have begun leveling off in the latter part of 2017.
 
Although members of both parties were able to come together in passing legislation to address the opioid epidemic, rank-and-file partisans are far apart in their views of the progress on dealing with illegal drugs. As with many issues today, the political polarization on this issue is wider than ever. With a Republican in the White House, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (55%) nationwide are twice as likely as Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (27%) to say the nation is making progress. Throughout the trend, partisans from the sitting president's party have been more likely to say the U.S. is making progress, but the current 28-point gap is by far the largest historically and much greater than last year's 13-point gap.
 
Majority of Older U.S. Adults Now Support Legal Pot
Among Americans aged 55 and older, views that marijuana should be legalized now surpass the majority level, with 59% support, up from 50% last year.
Meanwhile, solid majorities of younger adults have supported legalization for several years. Support is strongest among adults aged 18 to 34, at 78%, while nearly two in three adults aged 35 to 54 (65%) approve of legalizing marijuana.

 
Only About Half of Addicted Family Members Sought Treatment
Most who sought treatment made a complete recovery or got better
According to the recent USA Today/HBO Family Drug Addiction poll, only about half of Americans who have had a family member with an addiction to drugs or alcohol say their family member ever sought treatment. The vast majority of family members interviewed say their addicted relatives who sought treatment got better or completely recovered. Respondents who say their addicted relative completely recovered attribute family support or pressure, self-determination, or health scares as the major factors assisting that recovery.

In the survey, Gallup interviewed 902 adult Americans who indicated that an immediate family member has had an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Roughly one in five of all Americans contacted for the poll met these criteria.

More survey respondents say their family member has overcome his or her addiction (41%) than say he or she is currently addicted (30%). The remaining 29% say their family member has since died or they are unaware of their relative's current condition. The majority of respondents who say their family member is still addicted believe that he or she does not want to recover.

One of the challenges in overcoming substance addiction is getting the person to admit he or she has a problem. The poll results underscore this. Slightly more than half of the respondents, 54%, say their family member admitted to them that he or she had an addiction. This is the case even though 69% of respondents say they have personally confronted their family member about the addiction.

Those who confronted their addicted family member were much more successful in getting him or her to admit the addiction (65%) than those who did not confront their relative (29%).



Seeking Treatment
Only about half of those surveyed, 49%, say their family member ever sought treatment to attempt to overcome the addiction. This includes 19% who say their family member sought treatment on their own, and 30% who did so because others intervened.

The poll suggests that admission can be a key factor in whether the addicted relatives sought treatment. Sixty-five percent of respondents who say their family member admitted their addiction to them say their family member sought treatment. That contrasts with 32% of respondents whose family member did not admit their addiction to them.



Similarly, those who say they confronted their family member about the problem were significantly more likely to report that their family member sought treatment (56% compared with 35% of those who did not confront their family member).



Overcoming Addiction
The data suggest that treatment for addiction appears to produce positive results, according to those who have family experience with addiction. The vast majority of poll respondents whose family member sought treatment say that he or she got better after treatment (82%), including 38% who report their family member made a "complete recovery." Just 14% reported that their relative showed no improvement after getting help.
 
Poll respondents were asked for their views of the main reasons their relatives were able to overcome their addictions. The top responses were: family involvement (23%), both in terms of support of, and pressure on, the addicted family member; self-determination or willpower (15%) on the part of the addicted family member; and health reasons (12%) including life or death experiences.
 
ADDICTION PREVALENCE
40 million Americans ages 12 and older—or more than 1 in 7 people—abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This is more than the number of Americans with heart conditions (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million). 



 

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