90% of New Yorkers say opioid crisis is worse than any previous public health crises

May 7, 2018

Credit siena.edu

A new poll from Siena College shows that 90% of New Yorkers say the current opioid crisis is worse than previous public health crises.

An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers also supports strengthening prescription monitoring services; 82% say doctors should be punished for over prescribing.

But when it comes down to how the addiction started, Research Institute Director Don Levy says New Yorkers are divided on who is to blame.

"There's still about half of us that think that someone who abuses opioids, there’s something wrong with them, that they have moral failings. So that’s where the confusion comes from. We recognize that it’s a disease but we still have a tendency to be judgmental towards those people who become addicted."

Most New Yorkers polled support syringe exchange programs, while 59% oppose funding for supervised injection sites.

"Despite the fact that it’s more insidious than other crises, half of us say it’s not up to us to fix the problem of those people who become addicted. So we haven’t quite come to grip with... Are each and every one of us going to roll up our sleeves?"

This poll was the last of a four part series on opioids. Levy says over that time they found that education is key in battling the crisis, and hoped the polls help bring the epidemic out of the shadows.

"Not just looking at the horror pictures of an overdose, but to see how it’s touching the lives of a majority of us, so it’s going to take a majority of us to honestly address this crisis."

Most New Yorkers agree that a collaborative effort is necessary to beat the opioid crisis in our state, and 72% agree that pharmaceutical companies should be legally and financially responsible for the crisis.

Over three quarters of New Yorkers say that addiction is a disease and should be treated as one.