Addiction is a disease. That’s what 70 percent of adult Kentuckians say about addiction, a newly released Kentucky Health Issues Poll shows. That view doesn’t vary between those who have someone in their family or a friend with addiction and those who don’t.
That’s important, especially with the heroin epidemic, said Dr. Mina “Mike” Kalfas, a certified addiction expert in Northern Kentucky. “Every facet of our mission – from using Narcan to medication-assisted treatment to syringe exchange – relies on the general consensus recognizing this as a disease,” Kalfas said.
Interact for Health, a nonprofit that promotes and funds health and wellness causes in 20 counties around Cincinnati, sponsored the poll and released its findings Wednesday.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” But there has been a widespread belief that addiction is a moral failing.
Most Kentucky residents surveyed in the Interact poll responded that addiction is both a physical and psychological disease. Twenty-six percent said they did not think addiction is a disease and 4 percent said they didn’t know.
Interact president and CEO Dr. O’dell Owens said the poll matters because the more people understand addiction, the more likely communities will support people who have the condition.
“Interact for Health is focused on building a community-wide framework to address the opioid epidemic,” Owens said. “By approaching addiction as a chronic disease, we can reduce stigma for those with substance abuse disorders and begin to build a system that supports recovery.”
The Kentucky Health Issues Poll survey is based on 1,692 respondents reached by telephone. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. Along with Interact,the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky co-sponsored the survey.