POLITICS
02/03/2016 06:53 pm ET

White And Black Americans Agree That Heroin Abuse Is A Serious Problem

More than one-third of respondents know someone who's been addicted to heroin or another opiate, a new survey shows.
In a new survey, nearly half of respondents said they thought heroin abuse was a very serious national problem.
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In a new survey, nearly half of respondents said they thought heroin abuse was a very serious national problem.

Heroin addiction has joined perennial topics like the economy and foreign policy as a mainstay of the campaign trail this year -- in large part because New Hampshire, one of the states hardest hit by opioid abuse, is a key destination during presidential primary season.

But the problem is being felt nationwide. In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 49 percent of respondents say heroin use is a very serious national problem, and 87 percent say it's at least a somewhat serious problem. They perceive the issue to be nearly as troubling as gun violence, even if it's not a top personal concern for most of them.

About half of those surveyed also say that heroin use is at least as much of issue in their community as it is elsewhere. More than one-third of respondents know someone who's been addicted to heroin or another opiate.

There's relatively little difference across racial lines. Though black Americans are more likely than white Americans to describe heroin use as a serious issue, members of both races are about equally likely to know an addict or to consider their community especially hard-hit.

That marks a sea change from previous years. As heroin use has climbed disproportionately among white Americans -- who now comprise the vast majority of new heroin users -- it appears that more policymakers, politicians and members of the public have started to pay attention.

A 2005 poll on heroin -- conducted for a pharmaceutical company that made Suboxone, a medication for treating opiate addiction -- found that 37 percent of respondents considered heroin abuse to be a greater problem for minorities and 26 percent thought heroin use was more of a problem for whites. (That survey didn't give respondents the option to say heroin use was equally a problem for both groups, but many said so anyway.)

Yet in the recent HuffPost/YouGov poll, just 8 percent of Americans say they think heroin abuse is more common among blacks than whites. Twenty-seven percent say it's more common among whites, while 46 percent say it's equally common for both groups and the rest aren't sure.

Twenty-five percent of white respondents say heroin abuse is more common among whites, while 7 percent say it's more common among blacks. Black Americans said the same thing, by a much greater margin: 48 percent say it's more common among whites, and only 6 percent say it's more common among blacks.

Asked whether any specific group of people deserves particular blame for the heroin crisis, a near majority say drug users, drug dealers, and government and law enforcement are equally at fault. Twenty-eight percent blame users themselves, while 11 percent blame drug dealers, and 5 percent blame government and law enforcement officials who determine how heroin users are treated.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 20-22 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls' methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov's reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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