Drug Addiction Affects Majority of U.S. Families: Survey

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Aug. 15, 2023 – Results from a new survey show that drug and alcohol addiction is commonplace in U.S. families. Two-thirds of people said they or someone in their family has experienced addiction or overdose.

Specifically, 29% of people reported that they knew someone who has ever been addicted to opioids, which include prescription painkillers and heroin.

The survey results were released Tuesday by the research organization Kaiser Family Foundation and included responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,327 U.S. adults who responded to survey questions online or by phone from July 11 to July 19. The survey was conducted in English and in Spanish.

Overall, 19% of people reported a personal experience with addiction, and 62% said a family member had experienced addiction. The survey asked people if they or someone in their family had ever been addicted to prescription painkillers, to illegal drugs, to alcohol, had an overdose requiring hospitalization or an ER visit, or experienced addiction-related homelessness. Nearly 1 in 10 people said a family member had died of a drug overdose.

Last year, an estimated 110,000 people died of drug overdoses in the U.S., the most ever.

Addiction is considered a mental illness, and it is the most severe form of what is known as substance use disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

“People with SUD have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s) such as alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, to the point where the person's ability to function in day-to-day life becomes impaired,” the APA says in its description of the disorder. “People keep using the substance even when they know it is causing or will cause problems.”