44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

44% of Americans Know Someone Who Has Been Addicted to Prescription Painkillers

A new national poll finds 44 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, CNBC reports.

Of these people, 26 percent said the person they knew was an acquaintance, while 21 percent said it was a close friend and 20 percent said it was a family member. Two percent said they had been addicted to painkillers themselves.

The poll, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found 58 percent of respondents said they believe lack of access to addiction treatment is a major problem. Among people who know someone addicted to painkillers, 61 percent said they were concerned about lack of treatment.

People view heroin as a more serious problem than prescription painkillers, even though far fewer people die from heroin overdoses than from prescription opioids, the article notes. The poll found 35 percent of people view heroin abuse as an extremely serious problem, while 28 percent of people have the same view of prescription opioid abuse. Nineteen percent of respondents said they see alcohol abuse as an extremely serious problem.

According to the poll, 66 percent of Americans feel the federal government is not doing enough to fight painkiller abuse, while 62 percent say the government needs to do more to fight heroin abuse.

Americans support a number of strategies to reduce painkiller abuse, the poll found. More than 80 percent support increasing pain management training for medical students and doctors; increasing access to addiction treatment programs; implementing public education and awareness programs; expanding research about pain and pain management; and monitoring doctors’ prescription painkiller prescribing habits.

Among people who have a personal experience with painkiller abuse, 45 percent favor allowing nonprescription sale of the overdose antidote naloxone. Among people without such personal experience, 30 percent favor nonprescription naloxone sales.

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