Poll: More Americans view opioid addiction as serious problem

Poll: More Americans view opioid addiction as serious problem
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More Americans see opioid addiction as a significant issue in their communities than did two years ago, according to a new poll.

Forty-three percent of Americans say the use of prescription pain drugs is an extremely or very serious problem in their communities, up from 33 percent two years ago, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll released Wednesday.

Thirty-seven percent say heroin is an extremely or very serious concern locally, up from 32 percent in 2016.

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However, the poll shows many Americans still see drug addiction as a behavioral failing rather than as a disease.

While 53 percent of the public sees prescription drug addiction as a disease, 44 percent say it shows a lack of willpower or discipline, while 32 percent say it is caused by a character defect or bad parenting.

The National Institute of Health and the American Medical Association, as well as other medical organizations, define addiction as a disease.

The poll also found opioid addiction continues to carry a strong social stigma among Americans. 

Seventy-three percent said they would not be willing, or not too willing, to allow an addict to marry into their family.

Fifty-eight percent said they wouldn't be willing to work closely with an addict on the job, and 55 percent said they would not be willing to live next door to one. 

The survey of 1,054 adults was conducted March 14-19 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.