Morrison-Cronkite News poll shows 2 in 5 know someone with painkiller addiction

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A major poll released by Arizona State University on Wednesday shows 2 in 5 adults in Arizona know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, a finding that shows the sweep of the opioid abuse and addiction epidemic.

The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll, “Arizonans’ Opinions on Opioids and Addiction,” also showed 1 in 7 Arizona adults know someone who has died from an opiate pill overdose.

“Our polls continue to add key insight and data on important and complex issues facing the state and nation including in this case, opioid availability, abuse and addiction,” said Thom Reilly, director of Morrison Institute for Public Policy. “The findings show how widespread this epidemic manifests itself across a variety and multiple demographics. Poll results should help policymakers, medical professionals, community groups and the public better address this serious problem through improved awareness, policies and practices.”

The survey — a joint project between ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS — builds off the Cronkite News documentary “Hooked Rx: From Prescription to Addiction,” Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Christopher Callahan said.

“The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll is part of our continued commitment to reporting on this critical health issue that impacts so many people,” Callahan said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 78 people die every day from opioid-related overdoses in the U.S.

The Cronkite School’s 30-minute, commercial-free documentary on prescription opioid abuse was produced by more than 100 students under the guidance of 15 faculty members. It reached more than 1 million Arizonans in January.

Nearly 60 percent of Arizonans said they believe opioid painkillers are “very easy” or “somewhat easy” to get, despite continual efforts by the state and federal governments to further regulate and restrict the drug’s availability. The poll showed nearly 3 in 5 Arizona adults believe “prescription painkiller abuse makes a person more likely to use heroin or other illegal drugs.”

The poll showed the use of prescription pain relievers among Arizonans with ongoing pain increases with age (18–35 years old: 23 percent; 36–64: 38 percent; 65–plus: 41 percent). Overall, 36 percent of Arizonans in chronic pain use prescription pain relievers.

Throughout the poll report, comparisons were made to the national findings from the Henry I. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll from November 2015. The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll’s findings were similar to the national Kaiser Family Foundation Poll.

The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll, conducted March 11–18, interviewed 800 randomly selected Arizona adults. The sample was quota-selected from 18 strata based on age, gender and race to match the demographic characteristics of Arizona based on the latest Census data. The sampling frame included both landline and cellular telephones, and interviews were conducted in Spanish as needed. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The complete Morrison-Cronkite News Poll and coverage from Cronkite News can be found at cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2017/04/12/perscription-opioid-addiction-az-poll.

In the past two years, Cronkite News has been committed to providing in-depth and sustained coverage of Arizona’s opioid epidemic.

In addition to the “Hooked Rx” documentary, Cronkite News has produced numerous stories on the opioid epidemic. In 2015, students produced “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” which reached more than 1 million Arizonans and won numerous prestigious journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and Arizona’s top Emmy Award. Both Hooked documentaries were produced in partnership with the Arizona Broadcasters Association.