Alcohol and Opioid Addiction Casts Huge Shadow Over US 

Two-thirds of US adults say either they or a family member have been addicted to alcohol or drugs – but the impact of alcohol still substantially out-paces that of drugs, despite the country’s massive opioid epidemic.

This is the finding from a survey of a representative sample of US adults conducted last month by KFF, which was released this week.

More than half of those (54%) polled said someone in their family had been addicted to alcohol, and 13% reported that they may have been addicted to alcohol.

Slightly over a quarter reported family members who were addicted to an illegal drug (27%) or prescription painkillers (24%) while 5% said they may have been addicted to prescription painkillers, and 4% reported a possible addiction to illegal drugs.

Opioid impact

US overdose deaths reached record levels in 2022, with almost 110,000 people dying – mostly as a result of fentanyl overdoses.

In the survey, 42% of people reported they or a family member have experienced opioid addiction in comparison to 30%  in suburban and 23% in urban areas. 

More Whites (33%) than Hispanics (28%) or Blacks (23%) report personal or familial experience with 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. 

However, more Whites (51%), than Blacks (35%) or Hispanics (35%) received treatment. 

“Experiences with addiction and overdose are widespread, with large shares across income groups, education, race and ethnicity, age, and urbanicity all reporting some experience, though some groups report higher incidence than others,” notes KFF. 

“Overall, one in five adults (19%) say they have personally been addicted to drugs or alcohol, had a drug overdose requiring an ER visit or hospitalization, or experienced homelessness because of an addiction.

“The share increases to a quarter (25%) among adults with a household income of under $40,000 a year.”

This KFF Health Tracking Poll was designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF. The survey was conducted between 11-19  July online and by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 1,327 US. adults in English and Spanish.

Image Credits: Chuttersnap/ Unsplash.

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