Nearly a quarter of New Jerseyans (23 percent) said that they or a family member have taken a prescription opioid painkiller in the past 12 months, according to a joint Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University poll in collaboration with the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.
Four percent of survey respondents – which represents more than 350,000 New Jerseyans – admit they or a family member misused prescription pain relievers during the past year, either by using them more frequently than prescribed (3 percent) or by using a pain reliever not prescribed to them by a health care provider (2 percent). One percent report both types of misuse.
According to the survey, virtually all New Jerseyans believe use of prescribed and illegal opioid drugs is a “very” (67 percent) or “somewhat” (28 percent) serious problem in New Jersey. These numbers have changed little since Rutgers-Eagleton last polled about the severity of the epidemic in June 2018. Two percent say they or a family member have sought care for any kind of drug addiction in the past 12 months
“Addressing opioid misuse and addiction is a defining public health challenge of our time,” said Joel Cantor, distinguished professor and director of the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy. “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,” Cantor said.
A large majority also believes the use of opioid drugs is a serious problem in their own community. Three-quarters say opioid addiction is a serious problem in their community (34 percent “very,” 40 percent “somewhat”). Twenty percent say the problem is “not very serious” in their community, and 6 percent do not see it as a problem at all.
In this poll, 1,250 adults were contacted between March 7 and March 22 of 2019. Of those, 621 of were contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones, and 629 were reached through an online probability-based panel.
The combined sample has a margin of error of +/-3.6 percentage points; the phone sample has a margin of error of +/-4.5 percentage points, and the online probability-base sample has a margin of error of +/-5.5 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.