Most Americans Don’t Perceive a Local Opioid Epidemic

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Most Americans are blind to the opioid epidemic in their own backyards, a study shows, despite predictions the crisis could claim more than half a million lives in the U.S. by 2027, the Guardian reports. Americans are three times more likely to be aware of a national drug epidemic than to recognize addiction in their own communities, according to a survey by Laguna treatment hospital in Aliso Viejo, Ca. It found only 13 percent of those questioned from the southern U.S. and 10 percent of those from the northeastern U.S. felt “drugs posed a crisis in their own communities.” Northeastern states like Vermont and Pennsylvania and southern states like West Virginia and Kentucky represent communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

Dr Lawrence Tucker, medical director of Laguna treatment hospital, who established the first opioid dependence program in Virginia in 2006, was surprised by the findings “because the opioid epidemic is rampant, despite regional differences.” At Laguna, a drug and alcohol disorder treatment center, Tucker was directly involved with the new study, Perceptions of Addiction. It surveyed 999 Americans. Between the ages of 18 and 76, one-third of those surveyed self-identified as having had an addiction at some point in their lives. The survey supports findings from a 2014 Pew Research study that showed how few Americans were aware of the growing opioid crisis. Four years later, the opioid crisis has officially been declared an epidemic and specialists like wanted to find out if Americans’ awareness had changed.

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