New poll shows public's complicated feelings about opioid use: 4 important takeaways

A new poll conducted by STAT and Harvard University in Cambridge Mass., sheds light on public opinion regarding the CDC's new opioid prescription guidelines and the opioid drug-abuse epidemic rattling the nation.

Here are four key findings from the poll.

1. Majority support: Seventy percent of those polled support two crucial directives of the new guidelines: advising physicians to prescribe no more than a three-day supply of opioid pain medication to treat a majority of acute pain cases, and exploring other treatment options before prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain.

2. Conflicting support: Even with majority supporting the new guidelines, 55 percent of Americans polled expressed concern that the guidelines will make it more difficult for people who need pain medications to obtain them.

3. Blame: Those polled attributed blame to both physicians (34 percent) and drug users (37 percent). Pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration carried the minority of blame, with 10 percent and seven percent respectively.

4. Changing attitudes: The poll found 84 percent of those surveyed thought people caught with small amounts of painkillers obtained illegally should be directed toward treatment programs, not jails. Only 8 percent were in favor of incarceration. According to STAT, this is likely due to the fact that many of Americans have witnessed the toll of the epidemic up close, with 1 in 12 reporting that they knew someone who died from a prescription drug overdose.

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