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Where the Opioid Crisis Has Hit the Hardest

August 17, 2023

Nearly 30 percent of U.S. adults said they or someone in their family has been addicted to opioids, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The latest KFF Health Tracking Poll, released this week, provides insights into the scope of the opioid crisis and the polices aimed at reducing drug overdoses.

“Experiences with addiction and overdose are widespread, with large shares across income groups, education, race and ethnicity, age, and urbanicity all reporting some experience, though some groups report higher incidence than others,” the report notes.

Among the key takeaways:

  • A growing concern:  About 66 percent of the public report that either they or a family member “has been addicted to alcohol or drugs, experienced homelessness because of an addiction, or experienced a drug overdose leading to an emergency room visit, hospitalization, or death.”
  • Mental health:  Nearly 60 percent of adults were worried a family member would face a serious mental health crisis.
    • This rate of concern was higher among Black (60%) and Latino (75%) adults, as well as those with a lower income (64%).
  • Rural perspective:  Rural adults reported that someone in their family had been addicted to opioids at higher rates (42%) than their counterparts in suburban (30%) and urban areas (23%).
    • Nearly half of adults in rural areas expressed concerns about unintentionally consuming fentanyl compared to about 39 percent in urban areas and 37 percent in suburban areas.
  • Access to care:  About 46 percent of those who report addiction in their families say the person suffering from addiction received treatment.
  • Policy support:  Public support for policies aimed at reducing overdoses varies. The public overwhelmingly supports community addiction treatment centers (90%) and making Narcan available in bars, clinics, and fire stations (82%).
    • About 45 percent support locations where people can use illegal drugs under supervision of trained personnel in case of emergency.

HAP continues to advocate for resources that will bolster access to behavioral health care and support for patients with opioid use disorder. Learn more about our behavioral health advocacy.

The KFF poll is available to review online.