Nearly 1 in 10 US adults has lost a relative to a drug overdose

This is a still from the Netflix series Painkiller featuring Taylor Kitsch

Painkiller came out on Netflix on August 10. It’s a six-part series on Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family. To make a very long story incredibly short, Purdue & the Sacklers created and aggressively marketed OxyContin, through questionable, if not completely unethical means. I watched the series this weekend in one sitting. If you’re in the mood for getting angry—and I mean livid—then I highly recommend it! Purdue and the Sackler family are responsible for America’s opioid epidemic, full stop. New polling conducted by KFF (they focus on health policy reporting) confirms that now a third of Americans have a family member who has suffered from drug addiction:

The drug crisis is hitting home for the majority of adults in the U.S.

According to the latest findings by KFF, 66% of adults said they or someone in their family have experienced drug or alcohol addiction, become homeless due to addiction, or suffered an overdose ending in an emergency room visit, hospitalization, or death.

Three in 10 people said they or a family member have been addicted to opioids, including prescription painkillers and illegal drugs such as heroin or fentanyl.

And nearly 1 in 10 respondents said they had lost a relative due to an overdose.

The poll found a difference in geographic areas as well.

In rural regions, 42% of adults reported that they have been addicted to opioids, per the new survey, whereas 30% of people in suburban areas faced the same issue, as did 23% of urban dwellers.

Along racial lines, 33% of White adults said they or a relative had experienced opioid addiction, compared to 23% of Black adults and 28% of Hispanic adults.

The poll also revealed a lack of help for those experiencing addiction. Of those who said they or a family member have been addicted to prescription painkillers, alcohol, or an illegal drug, only 46% reported that they or their relative received treatment.

The new poll was conducted from July 11 to the 19 and surveyed 1,327 U.S. adults.

In 2022, there were nearly 110,000 drug overdose fatalities reported in the U.S., setting a new record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[From People]

I’m glad KFF included questions on treatment, or the lack thereof. For most of us, drugs and alcohol are in our faces everyday, from media to gatherings to dinner with friends. Or in the case of opioids, you may get them from your doctor who you (ideally) trust. Then we get judged for becoming addicted, when that’s the scientifically logical outcome of these substances. No, it’s not that you’re weak or can’t handle something. It’s that your body is having a predictable biological response. We absolutely need more accessible treatment, and greater empathy for people going through it.

One of the most affecting parts of Painkiller was the legal disclaimer before each episode: they filmed real parents who, after reading the basic jargon, “What you are about to see is based on facts. Some of the facts have been changed…” then spoke about the child they had lost to OxyContin. It could happen to any one of us, as these new poll numbers show.

One last thing, and also so we don’t end on such a bleak note: if you’re thinking of passing on Painkiller because you watched Hulu’s Dopesick from 2021, Painkiller stars Uzo Aduba, and she is on FIRE in it.

Photos credit: Keri Anderson/Netflix

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