Poll Reveals Public Attitudes On Substance Abuse, Treatment

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Nearly half of American adults report knowing someone in recovery from the use or abuse of alcohol or drugs, according to survey results announced today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

A large majority of Americans believe that people in recovery from substance addictions can live productive lives and contribute to their community, the report also said.

SAMHSA's announcement came during National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, an annual observance of efforts aimed at helping people with substance abuse problems restore their lives.

SAMHSA sponsored the nationwide survey to gain insight into public attitudes toward substance abuse, and the effectiveness of prevention, treatment and recovery programs. The survey showed that most Americans are supportive of people in recovery, and that the public overwhelmingly believes that prevention and treatment efforts can work.

"These results are encouraging and offer hope to everyone affected by substance abuse problems," said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick. "The survey shows that the American people believe that prevention and treatment efforts make a real difference in addressing this public health challenge and improving lives."

Among the survey's more notable findings:


* Less than one-fifth of Americans (18 percent) would think less of a friend or relative who is in recovery from addiction.

* Nearly two-thirds of the public (66 percent) believe that addiction to illicit drugs can be prevented.

* Most Americans report that they would feel comfortable being friends (66 percent) or working (63 percent) with someone in recovery for a substance abuse problem.

Although the report found widespread agreement on many issues, it also found some significant differences in how various segments of the public view certain substance abuse-related issues.

For example, younger Americans aged 25 to 34 are more likely than those age 65 and older to believe that people in recovery from illicit drugs can go on to live productive lives (70 percent compared to 51 percent).

Differences were also found between the sexes on some issues. Females were more likely than males to believe that people with illicit drug addictions posed a danger to society (80 percent compared to 73 percent). Women were also more inclined than men to believe that people in recovery from illicit drug addictions can live productive lives (65 percent compared to 56 percent).

In addition, the survey revealed differences in the way the general public views various types of substance use and abuse. For example, more Americans felt comfortable living next door to someone in recovery for alcohol abuse than for drug abuse (57 percent compared to 46 percent).