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Morrison-Cronkite News Poll Underscores Opioid Crisis in Arizona

April 12, 2017

The prevalence of prescription opioid abuse and addiction in Arizona is widespread, according to a major statewide poll released by Arizona State University today.

The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll: Arizonans’ Opinions on Opioids and Addiction found four in 10 Arizona adults (41.8 percent) know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll – a joint project between ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS — showed one in seven Arizona adults (14.4 percent) personally knows someone who has died from a prescription painkiller overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 78 people die every day from opioid-related overdoses in the U.S.

“Our polls continue to add key insight and data on important and complex issues facing the state and nation including in this case, opioid availability, abuse and addiction,” said Thom Reilly, director of Morrison Institute for Public Policy. “The findings show how widespread this epidemic manifests itself across a variety and multiple demographics. Poll results should help policymakers, medical professionals, community groups and the public better address this serious problem through improved awareness, policies and practices.”

Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said the poll builds off of the Cronkite News documentary, aired “Hooked Rx: From Prescription to Addiction.” The 30-minute, commercial-free documentary on prescription opioid abuse was produced by more than 100 Cronkite School students under the guidance of 15 faculty members and reached more than 1 million Arizonans in January.

“The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll is part of our continued commitment to reporting on this critical health issue that impacts so many people,” Callahan said.

Nearly 60 percent of Arizonans said they believe opioid painkillers are “very easy” or “somewhat easy” to get, despite continual efforts by the state and federal governments to further regulate and restrict the drug’s availability. The poll showed nearly six in 10 Arizona adults believe “prescription painkiller abuse makes a person more likely to use heroin or other illegal drugs.”

The poll showed the use of prescription pain relievers among Arizonans with ongoing pain increases with age (18-35: 22.5 percent; 36-64: 37.8 percent; 65-plus: 40.8 percent). Overall, 35.8 percent of Arizonans in chronic pain use prescription pain relievers.

Throughout the poll report, comparisons were made to the national findings from The Henry I. Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll from November 2015. The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll’s findings were similar to the national Kaiser Family Foundation Poll.

The Morrison-Cronkite News Poll, conducted March 11-18, 2017, interviewed 800 randomly selected Arizona adults. The sample was quota-selected from 18 strata based on age, gender and race to match the demographic characteristics of Arizona based on the latest census data. The sampling frame included both landline and cellular telephones and interviews were conducted in Spanish as needed.

The complete Morrison-Cronkite News Poll and coverage from Cronkite News can be found at cronkitenews.azpbs.org. This project was supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration and by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In the past two years, Cronkite News has been committed to providing in-depth and sustained coverage of Arizona’s opioid epidemic.

In addition to the “Hooked Rx” documentary, Cronkite News has produced numerous stories on the opioid epidemic. In 2015, students produced “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” which reached more than 1 million Arizonans and won numerous prestigious journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and Arizona’s top Emmy Award. Both Hooked documentaries were produced in partnership with the Arizona Broadcasters Association.

About Morrison Institute for Public Policy

Morrison Institute for Public Policy is Arizona’s premier think tank, examining critical Arizona and regional issues and a catalyst for public dialogue. A unit of the Arizona State University College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Morrison Institute uses nonpartisan research and communication outreach to help improve the state and region’s quality of life.

About Cronkite News

Cronkite News is the news division of Arizona PBS. Daily news products are produced by students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University under the leadership of a team of award-winning professional journalists. Cronkite News includes a nightly newscast that reaches 1.9 million households in Arizona, news bureaus in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and an online site, cronkitenews.azpbs.org, that features in-depth multimedia stories on issues important to Arizonans. Arizona PBS is a member-supported community service of Arizona State University and the Cronkite School.