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Opioid Dependence Survey Fact Sheet

Opioid Dependence
U.S. General Population and Primary Care Doctor
Survey Fact Sheet


Opioid dependence (OD; addiction) is more common than many people realize and can happen to anyone – affecting men and women of all ages, races, ethnic groups, income and educational levels.[1] The chronic medical condition, also known as prescription painkiller and heroin addiction, has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and represents a rapidly growing medical problem and public health concern. Despite the ever-growing numbers of individuals living with OD and significant media coverage, a national survey conducted online by Harris Interactive for Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals* reveals that both U.S. adults (ages 26-49) and doctors (who are not Drug Addiction Treatment Act [DATA] 2000 certified) harbor a variety of misperceptions and stereotypes about OD that may impact the way the disease – and those living with it – are treated.


FACT: OD Is a Major Public Health Issue That Affects Approximately Two Million Americans and Costs the US $193 Billion Per Year[2]

  • 68% of adults and 87% of doctors are aware millions of Americans are affected by opioid dependence
  • 76% of adults and 96% of doctors are aware painkiller misuse/abuse poses a significant burden on the U.S. healthcare system
  • Yet 67% of adults and 35% of doctors say they do not know much about opioid dependence
  • 44% of adults and 92% of doctors associate OD with addiction to prescription painkillers, and 55% of adults and 69% of doctors associate OD with addiction to heroin. Of note, 11% of adults and 3% of doctors believe OD refers to addiction of any kind of drug
  • 87% of adults and 97% of doctors agree dependence can happen unexpectedly as a consequence of proper pain treatment
  • 93% of adults and 97% of doctors agree that opioid dependence can impact people from all walks of life


FACT: OD Is a Chronic Medical Disease That Affects the Brain and Fools It into Thinking the Opioid is Necessary for Survival[3]

  • While 88% of doctors recognize addiction as a disease, only 59% of adults believe that addiction is a disease
  • Yet 25% of adults and 59% of doctors say OD is a chronic brain disease; 45% of adults and 30% of doctors view OD as more of a psychological problem (e.g., lifestyle choice) rather than a physical illness (e.g., chronic disease); and 68% of adults and 80% of doctors agree OD represents a mental health problem
  • 75% of adults and 85% of doctors agree people living with OD cannot stop on their own
  • 92% of adults and 98% of doctors say OD is treatable


FACT: Research Shows Treatment Can Benefit From a Combination of Medication and Behavioral Changes[4]

  • 67% of adults and 65% of doctors believe OD can be cured
  • Yet 56% of adults and 69% of doctors believe the vast majority living with OD will experience a relapse
  • 61% of adults and only 40% of doctors say treatment for OD is readily available
  • Only about 35% of adults who are aware and 21% of doctors believe a stay at a rehabilitation clinic is very effective
  • Only 44% of adults are aware of obtaining prescription medication from a doctor as a treatment option for OD
  • 58% of adults and 73% of doctors strongly support the use of prescription medication to treat OD


FACT: Medication is Covered by the Majority of Health Insurance Companies and Privacy is Protected[5]

  • 77% of adults and 93% of doctors mention shame or embarrassment, fear that others will find out and/or feel of putting life on hold as reasons those suffering from addiction would refrain from seeking treatment
  • 79% of adults and 91% of doctors most commonly mention the inability to recognize one has a problem as a reason individuals avoid seeking treatment Only 29% of adults and 21% of doctors believe seeking treatment for OD means a person needs to give up his/her privacy
  • 21% of adults and 16% of doctors believe treatment for OD is not covered by medical insurance plans


For more information on opioid dependence, available treatment options and to “find a doctor” who is certified to treat opioid dependence, visit

* This Opioid Dependence Study of 1,002 U.S. adults age 26 to 49 was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals between January 2 and 7, 2013. The survey of 200 primary care, family practice and internal medicine doctors practicing in the United States, who, at the time of the study, were not certified under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) 2000 to treat opioid dependence as part of their practice also was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals between March 13 and 22, 2013. To ensure the survey results were nationally representative, data for the general population were weighted on income, education, ethnicity, region, age within gender and propensity to be online, while the doctors’ data were weighted on years in practice by gender.


[1] The Treatment Episode Data Report.  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Available: Accessed June 4, 2013.


[2] Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  NSDUH Series H-41, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11-4658. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011.


[3] Drugs, Brains, and Behavior:  The Science of Addiction.  National Institute on Drug Abuse.   Available: Accessed June 4, 2013.


[4] Doran CM. Pharmacoeconomics. 2008;26(5):371-393; 2. World Health Organization. 2004.  Available: Accessed June 4, 2013.


[5] HIPAA Privacy Rule and Public Health.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available:  Accessed June 4, 2013.


Posted: June 2013

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