American Attitudes toward Substance Use in the United States

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey of 1,042 adults using AmeriSpeak to explore Americans’ attitudes toward issues of substance use and treatment in the United States.

More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rise of heroin-related deaths has been particularly sharp.

In a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, few Americans say their communities are doing enough to deal with substance abuse, a problem that many see as particularly serious.

In February 2016, the Obama administration said it would ask Congress to spend an additional $1.1 billion next year to combat the growing epidemic of prescription painkiller and heroin abuse by expanding treatment facilities, developing programs intended to prevent prescription drug overdoses, and cracking down on illegal sales. The poll suggests there is public support for these policy approaches to the problem.

The nationwide poll of 1,042 adults used AmeriSpeak, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Interviews were conducted between February 11 and 14, 2016, online and using landlines and cell phones.

Three Things You Should Know
From The AP-NORC Center’s Poll on substance use and treatment in
the United States

Among all American Adults:

  1. Sixty-two percent say there is a serious problem with some type of substance use in their community.
  2. There is strong public support for additional research and treatment options for substance use, as well as getting tougher on drug dealers. 
  3. While 61 percent of the public supports legalizing marijuana, most of them want it limited to medical treatment or want amount restrictions.