POLL: 90% of NYers say opioid crisis worse than any previous public health crisis

May 9, 2018

A new poll from Siena College shows that 90 percent of New Yorkers say the current opioid crisis is worse than previous public health crises. An overwhelming majority of New Yorkers also supports strengthening prescription monitoring services, while 82 percent say doctors should be punished for overprescribing.

However, when it comes down to how the addiction started, Research Institute Director Don Levy said New Yorkers are divided on who is to blame.

“There’s still about half of us that think that someone who abuses opioids, there’s something wrong with them, that they have moral failings." Levy said. "So that’s where the confusion comes from. We recognize that it’s a disease but we still have a tendency to be judgmental towards those people who become addicted.”

Most New Yorkers polled support syringe exchange programs, while 59 percent oppose funding for supervised injection sites.

“Despite the fact that it’s more insidious than other crises, half of us say it’s not up to us to fix the problem of those people who become addicted," Levy continued. "So we haven’t quite come to grip with… Are each and every one of us going to roll up our sleeves?”

This poll was the last of a four-part series on opioids. Levy said over that time, they found that education is key in battling the crisis. He hoped the polls help bring the epidemic out of the shadows.

“Not just looking at the horror pictures of an overdose, but to see how it’s touching the lives of a majority of us," Levy said, "so it’s going to take a majority of us to honestly address this crisis.”

Most New Yorkers agree that a collaborative effort is necessary to beat the opioid crisis in our state and 72 percent agree that pharmaceutical companies should be legally and financially held responsible for the crisis.

Over three quarters of New Yorkers also say that addiction is a disease and should be treated as one.