By Barbara Goodheart, ELS
Results of a Poll Released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) -May 1, 2017
To get some perspective on this story, let’s picture a teenager who has a painful backache and accepts some hydrocodone (Vicodin) capsules from a friend. When those are gone, other friends share pills that they’ve been prescribed or they’ve obtained illicitly. Soon the teen has another problem—she’s unable to stop taking the hydrocodone.
Responses to the APA Poll
Now let’s look at the APA poll in light of the teenager’s story.
She took a prescription drug—an opioid—without a prescription
According to 87% of those who responded to the APA poll, that’s “bad.”
Breaking down the numbers, it’s “really bad,” say 55%; “somewhat bad,” 32%; “not that bad,” 10%; and “not bad at all,” 3%.
Clearly, most respondents judged such misuse pretty harshly. The two responses directly below indicate that very few respondents committed this type of “bad” behavior themselves; perhaps that’s why they were such severe judges.
- 1% of respondents have misused or been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers
- 10% have taken an opioid or prescription painkiller without a prescription
Respondents were aware of others whose behavior was similar.
- 27% know someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers
- 39% of all respondents (and 46% of millennials) said it would be extremely or somewhat easy for community members to obtain illegal opioids
- 69% “understand how someone accidentally gets addicted to opioids”
Despite their seemingly harsh judgment of illicit opioid use, respondents showed some empathy when it came to understanding behavior that can lead to addiction. They knew that obtaining illegal opioids wasn’t usually difficult, and they were acquainted with someone who had become addicted—a situation that may tend to create understanding and acceptance.
Other topics covered in the APA survey include what areas policymakers should prioritize in working with the opioid crisis (eg, access to treatment, stricter punishments, prescription limits); and whether the country is headed in the right direction in addressing the opioid crisis.
The complete APA survey results are available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/apa-public-opinion-poll-annual-meeting-2017.