Health Poll Finds Three in Four Americans Link Narcotic Pain Killers to Drug Addiction

The survey, which asked respondents their opinions and concerns regarding narcotic pain killers, found that 49.7 percent have used these drugs in the past. Of those, over one-third of respondents said they used the drugs despite having concerns regarding their use.  The top concerns reported were potential side effects (44.9 percent), fear of addiction (27.5 percent) and concern about potential long-term health impacts (15.5 percent). Other findings include:

  • 30.5% of respondents who reported using narcotic painkillers did so for chronic pain, a rate that decreased among respondents with higher income and more education.
  • 88% of respondents who said they had used narcotic painkillers did so for acute pain, while 4.6% said they had used them for pain associated with cancer.
  • Over three-quarters (77.2%) of all respondents said they believe narcotic painkillers are linked to drug addiction, while 59.5% associate narcotic painkillers with depression.
  • Over one-third (36.1%) of respondents who had used narcotic pain killers did so despite having concerns regarding their use.
  • The top concern among painkiller users was potential side effects (44.9%), followed by fear of addiction (27.5%), and concern about potential long-term health impacts (15.5%).
  • Those who have not used painkillers cited fear of addiction as their primary concern (38%), followed by association with drug abuse (24.8%), and side effects (20.4%).
  • 30.8% of respondents said they questioned or refused a physician’s recommendation of painkillers.

“With such a significant number of responders having been prescribed a narcotic pain killer, our results suggest that these drugs are relatively easy to access despite the need for a physician’s prescription,” said Raymond Fabius, M.D., chief medical officer at the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters. “It’s encouraging to see a healthy understanding of the addictive properties of narcotics among our survey population, but refusing to use them when they can be helpful may cause people to experience unnecessary pain.

The results are based on responses from 3,009 survey participants interviewed from October 1-13, 2011. The margin of error is 1.8 percent.

The report can be accessed at:

Source: Thomson Reuters – November 22, 2011