Roughly three in 10 adults have been addicted to opioids or have a family member who has been, and less than half of those with a substance use disorder have received treatment, finds a new survey conducted by KFF, a health policy research group. The survey, which polled more than 1,300 adults in July, underscores the broad and often harmful influence of opioid addiction across the nation, which recorded some 110,000 fatal drug overdoses last year alone. The findings suggest that some proved medications for helping curb drug cravings, such as buprenorphine and methadone, are still not getting to those who need them. Only 25% of participants in the poll who said they or someone in their family had an opioid addiction reported receiving medication for themselves or family members.
Mollyann Brodie of KFF’s polling program said that the numbers might be an undercount, as some survey participants might have been hesitant to share histories of opioid addiction. It was also possible, she added, that some people had their own ideas about what qualified as addiction. “It’s our best estimate based on people’s willingness to self-report,” she said. Addiction cuts across class, race and geography, the KFF researchers found. Rural and white Americans were the likeliest to report personal or family opioid addiction, but significant percentages of Black, Hispanic, urban and suburban families did, as well. White families were more likely than Black or Hispanic families to say that they had received treatment. Overdose fatality rates among Black Americans have climbed substantially in recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year. Low household income levels also appear to influence experience with addiction, KFF found. A higher percentage of households making less than $40,000 annually reported possible prescription painkiller, illegal drug and alcohol addiction, compared with households with higher incomes.