While 42% of people say they don't know much about the condition
64% of people in the UK know someone with an addiction
Our YouGov poll conducted for Addiction Awareness Week shows that there is still a major gap between numbers of people affected by addiction, and numbers of people with an understanding of addiction.
How much do people know about addiction?
55% of respondents replied that they knew a fair amount or a lot about addiction. However, 42% replied they knew little or had no knowledge of addiction.
Do you know someone who has had an addiction?
59% of respondents replied that they knew someone with an addiction. Either a relative, friend, work colleague, a neighbour (or themselves). This would be equivalent of 59%* of the population knowing someone with an addiction. Despite a high level of personal encounters with addiction, 42% of people responded to say they knew little or nothing about it.
Causes/factors leading to addiction
People had a strong sense that mental ill-health, adverse childhood experiences, trauma, loneliness, isolation and stress were all contributing factors to addiction. 78% of respondents felt mental ill-health (anxiety and depression), 74% felt a traumatic experience such as ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences), bereavement or job loss and 70% suggested stress can lead to addiction.
However, 55% of respondents said a lack of self-control could also lead to addiction. Only 6% of respondents said they did not know if the factors listed from mental illness through to social expectations can lead to addiction, suggesting the public had strong views on addiction causes despite earlier responses that almost half of the people responding do not know much about addiction.
Stopping addiction – difficulty or ease
81% of people responded to say that If people with an addiction wanted to stop it would be hard because it is a serious health condition, but they can do it with specialist help.
This suggests that there is a growing awareness that addiction is a serious health condition and connects with the previous answer that mental ill-health, in particular, is a significant factor in addiction.
Opinions on effective ways for someone to recover from an addiction
The vast majority of respondents gave positive action responses – 78% answered specialist treatment such as rehabs and counselling, 74% answered with help from peers in recovery, 68% answered with support from family and friends while 36% said positive media coverage and role models would be an effective way for someone to recover from an addiction. 8% felt more negative responses would be effective – such as punishment (e.g. criminal record or removal of access to healthcare, etc.) or removal of benefits (9%).
Importance of addiction awareness and government action
An overwhelming proportion of respondents felt that positive action, awareness and earlier support were important to aid recovery for people living with addiction. A small proportion (13%) felt that punishment was important to aiding recovery – however, this would still represent 13%* of the population were it replicated on a national scale.
31% felt that no action was needed and only the person themselves can do something about their addiction.
80% of people felt that better awareness of addiction from the public so people can spot symptoms, seek help and get support was important to help people recover.
75% of people felt increased government investment in specialist treatment, access to rehabs, counselling was important.
80% of people said better training for health and mental health professionals to spot addiction early was important.
82% felt more support for young people to prevent addiction happening earlier was important.
Addiction and mental health
77% of respondents said that addiction should be treated like any other mental health condition, with greater levels of investment in effective care and treatment.
This correlates with other answers that suggest that a significant proportion of the public view addiction as a mental health problem.
83% said families and children impacted by addiction should have access to their own specialist support and care services.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,137 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 5th October 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
* Data extracted to population data and calculated by Forward Trust