Majority of U.S. Adults Say They’ve Been Affected by Substance-Abuse Crisis

By: Caroline Downey

A majority of American adults say they’ve been personally impacted by the substance-abuse crisis plaguing the country.

Two-thirds of adults said either they or a family member had been addicted to substances, were homeless at one point due to addiction, or suffered a drug overdose that led to an emergency-room visit, hospitalization, or death, according to a health-tracking poll released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Substances for the purposes of the poll include prescription painkillers; illegal drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, or cocaine; or alcohol. The largest percentage, 13 percent, said they might have been addicted to alcohol, while 5 percent said the same for prescription painkillers and 4 percent for narcotics.

Exposure to or experience with the substance-abuse crisis in the U.S. appears to be disproportionately felt by lower-income groups, the poll indicates.

Overall, one in five adults, or 19 percent, said 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. Among adults who generate under $40,000 a year in household income, 25 percent attest to the same circumstances. The percentage of those affected by addiction decreases with increases in affluence, the poll shows. Eighteen percent of adults with a household income between $40,000 and $90,000 reported these same circumstances, and 16 percent of adults with an annual household income of $90,000 or more reported them.

Addiction is also suffered more in white communities, compared with black and Hispanic communities, the poll suggests. While 67 percent of white adults responded that someone in their family has experienced addiction or overdose, 58 percent of black adults and 56 percent of Hispanic adults responded the same. Addiction to alcohol and prescription painkillers, more severe among white adults, is driving most of the disparity, according to the poll.

Even for adults who haven’t directly had an incident of drug abuse in their own lives, the fear of substance abuse in their families is significant. Over half of adults, at 51 percent, are worried that someone in their family will develop a substance-use disorder or an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the poll said.

The survey, conducted July 11-19, 2023, involved a nationally representative sample of 1,327 U.S. adults. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

As the border crisis continues to degenerate, the lethal narcotic fentanyl has flooded into the U.S.

“Fentanyl is the greatest threat to Americans today. It kills more Americans between the ages of 18 to 45 than terrorism, than car accidents, than cancer, than COVID. It kills nearly 200 Americans every day. And the number of children under 14 dying from fentanyl poisoning has increased at an alarming rate,” Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Anne Milgram said in a press release. The CDC estimates that there were over 80,000 opioid-overdose deaths in the United States during 2021.

Another four in ten adults interviewed for the poll are concerned that someone in their family will unintentionally consume the drug fentanyl, while a third are concerned that someone in their family will overdose on opioids.

Downey (2023). Article retrieved from National Review.


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