Americans approve of the President's actions on the opioid epidemic

November 02, 2017, 5:00 PM GMT+0

But half say more needs to be done

One in four Americans know someone with an opioid abuse problem. Personal awareness crosses party lines and is nearly as common in rural areas as in big cities. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Republicans are just as likely as Democrats to know someone with an opioid abuse problem.

More than half of those who know someone with a problem also personally know someone who has died from a drug overdose. Nationally, 24% say they know someone who has died from an overdose.

The public sees opioid abuse as a crisis – nearly eight in ten say it is a serious problem for the country, and half say it’s a serious problem in their own communities. Those with personal knowledge of an opioid abuser are paying more attention to the problem and are even more likely to view the problem as very serious.

There is overwhelming support from all groups for the President’s decision to declare opioid abuse a public health emergency. 71% agree with his decision, including 69% of Democrats. By 45% to 26%, Americans approve of his handling of the crisis, though on the latter question the usual partisan differences emerge. Republicans approve by more than seven to one, while Democrats disapprove by nearly two to one.

In an August


/YouGov Poll, Americans were evenly divided between approval and disapproval of the President’s handling of the crisis. But now Americans want more from the President. Only 17% say his plan does enough to handle the opioid crisis. Half (49%) say it does not. Republicans are divided on whether the President’s plan does enough.

There are many who share the blame for the opioid crisis, according to the public. Just about half give doctors who over-prescribe, pharmaceutical companies who encourage doctors to prescribe opioids, drug dealers who sell opioid products, and those without prescriptions who seek out and acquire otherwise legal medications a lot of blame for the crisis. Fewer, though still a third, say patients who demand pain relieving prescriptions deserve a lot of the blame, too.

On most of these questions, there are few party differences.

Few overall blame the impact of the 2008 economic crisis. It’s individuals, not history, Americans see at fault.

Treatment, not punishment is seen as a better solution. By five the three, the public wants the government to focus more on providing treatment for those who use drugs illegally, not prosecute people who use illegal drugs. This is a broad question – not only covering those who abuse opioids, but also those who abuse other illegal drugs, like heroin and cocaine.

And Republicans, who often take more law and order positions, are more likely than Democrats to choose a punitive response. Two-thirds of Democrats favor treatment over prosecution; Republicans are almost evenly divided.

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full tab report




Image: Getty