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More Than Half Of NYers Personally Touched By Opioid Abuse, Poll Finds

The number of overdose deaths, particularly due to opioids, has increased.
The number of overdose deaths, particularly due to opioids, has increased. Photo Credit: Flickr user frankieleon

Nearly one of every four New Yorkers personally know of someone, a family member, friend or acquaintance that has died due to an opioid overdose, according to a new Siena College poll.

After measuring those who have an immediate or extended family member -- or someone they know through work -- who has abused opioids, 54 percent have been touched by the epidemic involving painkillers, the poll found. 

Eighty percent of state residents agree that our country is in the middle of an opioid crisis and 83 percent think the problem of opioid abuse has gotten worse over the past few years. 

A vast majority of New Yorkers, 77 percent, think of both the abuse of legal prescription drugs like OxyContin and illegal opioids like heroin when they hear a discussion of the opioid crisis.

Asked how serious a public health problem nine different issues pose, the three seen as most serious are heroin use (69 percent very serious), the growing availability of synthetic opioids (68 percent very serious) and prescription drug abuse (66 percent very serious). 

The survey is part of a community effort by Prescription for Progress: United against opioid addiction, a newly formed coalition of leaders in healthcare, media, law enforcement, education and business in New York’s Capital Region committed to raising awareness and taking positive steps to address the crisis.

“Often we’re asked what finding is surprising in a poll,” said Don Levy, director of Siena College Research Institute. “That one in four of us know someone that this epidemic has taken and nearly 6 in 10 of us are currently touched by it, is shocking.”

“Fewer than half of New Yorkers told us that they don’t know of anyone who has abused opioids," Levy said. 

A majority of New Yorkers were able to identify oxycodone (84 percent), morphine (70 percent), heroin (69 percent), hydrocodone (67 percent), fentanyl (58 percent) and methadone (53 percent) as opioids.

In the coming weeks, the Siena College Research Institute (SCRI) will release three additional chapters of data drawn from this survey of nearly 1,400 New Yorkers.

Prescription for Progress seeks to unite businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to strive toward the shared goal of fighting addiction. The initiative will include town hall meetings, public service messages in local media and gatherings of stakeholders to identify positive steps. 

For survey cross-tabs: click here.

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