The persistence and prevalence of New Jersey’s opioid-drug problem are starkly evident in a newly released poll, which shows 4 percent of those surveyed say they or a family member had abused painkillers in the past year, a figure that translates into 350,000 residents of the Garden State.
The joint Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 1,250 adults also shows that virtually all of those surveyed view opioid abuse as a significant issue for New Jersey, with 67 percent terming it a “very” serious problem and 28 percent a “somewhat” serious problem. These numbers have changed little since Rutgers-Eagleton last polled about the severity of the epidemic in June of 2018.
“Addressing opioid misuse and addiction is a defining public health challenge of our time,” said Joel C. Cantor, distinguished professor and director of the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy, which collaborated in the survey. “The large number of adults using more opioids than prescribed, or using drugs not prescribed for them, raises serious challenges for doctors and other prescribers to assure proper use of these powerful medicines.”
The survey also shows that people see abuse of painkillers as a local issue, with roughly three in four terming it a serious problem in their own community.
One in four respondents said they or a family member had taken prescription painkillers in the last year. And 2 percent said they or a family member had sought treatment for drug addiction.