Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) believe that the government spends too little on drug rehabilitation – an attitude that is increasingly embraced by white Americans, because addiction is seen more as a disease and less as a personal deficit that primarily affects minorities, according to a new research data.
It represents a 50 percent increase since 2012, when only 42 percent of Americans felt that way, according to an exclusive DailyMail.com analysis from the General Social Survey – a comprehensive poll that has been tracking American attitudes and beliefs since 1972.
The change in mentality is & # 39; encouraging & # 39 ;, said Michael Botticelli, executive director of the Grayken Center for Addiction at the Boston Medical Center, and former director of national drug control policy at the White House under former President Obama.
& # 39; It is also heartbreaking at the same time that it took this level of addiction and death to change the (public) opinion here, & # 39; he told DailyMail.com. & # 39; It is particularly tragic that we did not see this type of response in which previous epidemics largely affected people of color. & # 39;
This graph illustrates the proportion of all Americans who believe that the government spends too little money on drug rehabilitation. Source: General Social Survey
The proportion of all Americans who would like to spend more on rehabilitation is now approaching the 1990 summit – at the height of the crack epidemic – when 65 percent said the government spent too little on rehabilitation.
General support for more funding declined steadily from 1990 to 2012, just as the opiate crisis was about to nip and attract media attention.
& # 39; Over the past 30, 40 years, coverage of the opioid epidemic has received more attention than what is in the drug world, said Peter Provet, CEO of the Odyssey House rehabilitation center in New York City.
Black and white Americans have traditionally been strongly divided on this issue, with African Americans being considerably more inclined to support more money for drug rehabilitation than their white counterparts – with calls for more spending ranging from 60 percent to more than 80 percent compared to the past three decades.
This support peaked among African Americans in 1990 (again, during the height of the crack epidemic, which was disproportionately heavy for black people), when 83 percent said more money was needed – compared to an all-time peak of 62 percent of white Americans that year.
This graph illustrates the proportion of black and white Americans who believe that the government spends too little money on drug rehabilitation. Source: General Social Survey
White views linked that peak in 2018, with 62 percent in favor of more spending on rehabilitation – an increase of 63 percent since 2012, when only 38 percent felt that.
It is still considerably less than the 71 percent of African Americans in 2018 who said they would like to see more money to help recover from drug addiction.
The change in attitudes is a good sign, as the general public and politicians have never seen the drug problem as a major concern & # 39 ;, Provet told DailyMail.com.
& # 39; The historical demography (of drug addiction) was the poor, mainly black or person of color, inner city addict and that demographic did not get the attention and attention of the general public, & # 39; he added. & # 39; This current opioid epidemic has much more affected the middle class of America. & # 39;
Opinions about rehabilitation spending also split biased, with 74 percent of Democrats saying it was underpaid in 2018, compared to 53 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents.
Among the Democrats, 2018 marks a record high in public opinion in favor of more funding for people suffering from addiction, while Republicans saw a peak in 1990 at 60 percent, and independents in 1989 at 66 percent.
This graph illustrates the proportion of Americans from different political parties who believe that the government spends too little money on drug rehabilitation. Source: General Social Survey
All three political parties have seen a steady revival since 2012 in supporting government funding.
The opioid epidemic has succeeded in gaining more public sympathy than other drug epidemics, mainly because it affects so many people – and because of its reach in white suburban America, Botticelli said.
& # 39; The vast majority of people know someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic & # 39 ;, he said.
The result has even led to a shift in attitudes among many in law enforcement.
& # 39; You have more and more law enforcement officers who say we cannot arrest and detain this problem, & # 39; said Botticelli.
& # 39; If you look at where we have funded other epidemics such as HIV and tobacco, we not only need to increase resources, but that funding should also be maintained over time & he added.
The Ministry of Health and Human Services is requesting $ 1.9 billion in funding for addiction prevention and treatment in the 2020 federal budget, although officials have not figured out how much of it is for rehabilitation.