September 21, 2017

Survey: Half of Americans say opioid abuse difficult to treat

PHOTO | Steve Heap,
PHOTO | Steve Heap,

A new survey by Bloomfield insurer Cigna and the Economist found that only 47 percent of the American public think opioid addiction is treatable, though 70 percent of medical practitioners do.

The finding is one of several from a survey commissioned by Cigna this summer. The survey included opinions from 304 medical and addiction practitioners (70 percent who have treated veterans) and 2,800 Americans, 21 percent of whom are veterans.

Cigna and the Economist's "intelligence unit" joined forces to launch an online hub this week after conducting the survey. The website includes an interactive map exploring the treatment options the U.S. public would like to see greater access to, and points to case studies of successful programs across the nation.

Both medical practitioners and the general public say that treating veterans who suffer from opioid addiction is more complex than treating others who suffer from opioid addiction, the survey found.

The survey also indicated that 43 percent of medical practitioners cited overprescribing as a cause of addiction, but 58 percent said they focus more on treating the patient's condition than the potential for opioid misuse at the moment of prescribing.

The research comes at a time when more than 33,000 Americans a year die from opioid-related overdoses. In the U.S., the total economic burden from opioid misuse hit an estimated $78.5 billion, a number that reflects the cost to the U.S. economy as well as the impact the crisis has on families in lost jobs and lost wages, according to Cigna's research. The number of veterans living with opioid issues grew 55 percent between 2010 and 2015, Cigna said.

"Cigna is optimistic that this is a challenge we as a country can overcome – by working together," Cigna President and CEO David M. Cordani said.

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