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New Poll Finds Most Americans Support Including Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction in National Health Care Reform; All Demographics Report Personal Experience With the Disease
Date:6/16/2009

Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) Poll Shows Widespread Concern about Cost of and Access to Treatment

BALTIMORE, June 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new poll conducted for the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) initiative found that, regardless of race, age, where people live or income, most Americans know someone personally who has been addicted to alcohol or drugs, are worried about access to affordable treatment and support including treatment in national health care reform. The CATG initiative seeks to ensure that all people who need alcohol or drug addiction treatment have access to quality treatment services.

Among the key findings of the national poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners:

  • Three-quarters of Americans (76%) know someone personally who has been addicted to alcohol or drugs. Personal experience with addiction spans all demographic groups.
  • Half of Americans (49%) do not think they would be able to afford the costs of treatment if they or a family member needed it. This concern about affordability is highest among Americans with incomes under $50,000 (67% say they would not be able to afford treatment).
  • Three-quarters (75%) of Americans are concerned that people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs many not be able to get treatment because they lack insurance coverage or cannot afford it.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) support including alcohol and drug addition treatment as part of national health care reform to make it more accessible and affordable. This support cuts across all demographic groups.
  • Two-thirds of Americans (68%) also support increasing federal and state funding for alcohol and drug prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

"Americans are concerned that people who are addicted to alcohol or drugs may not be able to get the treatment they need because they lack insurance coverage or can't afford treatment and the facts support this concern," said Victor Capoccia, director of the CATG initiative. "We are treating just 10 percent of the 23 million people in the United States who need addiction treatment."

Capoccia added, "Addiction is an equal opportunity disease, as demonstrated by these research findings. It is blind to our differences and it unites us behind a common purpose - closing the addiction treatment gap."

The research findings were released in conjunction with the passage on June 15, 2009 of a resolution from the U.S. Conference of Mayors urging "Congress to pass legislation expanding funding for alcohol and drug prevention, treatment, and recovery services for all who need them."

"Mayors are acutely aware of the toll addictions take on our cities," said Providence, RI Mayor David N. Cicilline, a partner in the CATG initiative. "Especially in a time of economic hardships and reduced budgets, we cannot abandon addiction treatment. As the resolution makes clear, mayors believe that treatment works, and that government has a critical role to play in closing the addiction treatment gap."

The American Medical Association has determined addiction is a disease. Just like heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, addiction can be treated successfully over time, with patient dedication and community support. No other chronic disease affects so many Americans and yet receives such little funding support.

"Addiction is a serious health condition and Americans of all walks of life recognize that there are real cost barriers to effective addiction treatment," said Diana Morris, Director of OSI Baltimore. "There is tremendous momentum now to reform the nation's health care system. It is clear that Americans - across all demographic groups - strongly support the inclusion of addiction treatment."

The telephone survey was conducted May 29 - June 1, 2009 among a nationally-representative sample of 1,001 adults 18 and older. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.1 percentage points. The complete results are available at www.treatmentgap.org.

CATG Enhances Web Site with Resources for Media, Policymakers and Others

In addition to announcing polling, CATG also launched several expanded sections of its Web site, www.treatmentgap.org. Designed as an information resource for media, policy- and decision-makers, the drug and alcohol addiction treatment community, and others, CATG's new resource sections are now populated with impact briefs on key issues, along with links to various studies relevant to the addiction treatment community, the health care debate, and related issues.

The new resources can be found on CATG's web site under the "Research" (www.soros.org/initiatives/treatmentgap/research) and "Publications & Articles" (www.soros.org/initiatives/treatmentgap/articles_publications) sections.

Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap (CATG) is a national program of the Open Society Institute. This initiative is designed to create an awareness of -- and increase resources to close -- an alarming treatment gap: currently, four out of five Americans who need drug and alcohol addiction treatment are unable to get it. The initiative aims to mobilize public support for expanded treatment by increasing public funding, broadening insurance coverage, and achieving greater program efficiency.

The Open Society Institute, a private operating and grantmaking foundation, works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve its mission, OSI seeks to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. OSI works in over 60 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as in the United States.

    CONTACT: Amanda Deaver
    202-207-3631
    Debra Rubino
    410-234-1091


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SOURCE Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap
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