A new poll finds most people in New Jersey and across the nation believe the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic is something to be concerned about.

About 8 in 10 say it's a serious problem where they live. About 55 percent say it's a serious problem in their station, while another 23 percent think it's "somewhat" serious.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, says residents of the Northeast, including New Jersey, are more likely to say this is a major problem.

“Sixty-six percent in this region say it’s very serious, significantly higher than in any other region of the country.”

The poll finds only 1 in 10 people believe opioid use is not a serious problem.

While the vast majority agree the opioid epidemic is a major concern, Murray noted many do not agree with the recommendation by Gov. Chris Christie’s Opioid Task Force to President Trump, that things are so bad a national emergency should be declared.

“Just 34 percent of Americans think a national emergency is the way to deal with this issue; 54 percent say that there are other ways to deal with this crisis,” he said.

Murray pointed out the poll shows concern about the problem is very widespread and “it crosses party lines. Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats and independents to say it’s a very serious problem. But it’s the difference between 62 percent and the low 50s.”

To address the opioid crisis, the poll finds 55 percent approve of increasing federal funding to make inpatient treatment available to more people, 16 percent oppose this idea and 29 percent are unsure.

He said on the question of whether we should have opioid sensors used in the U.S. postal system, “We find 45 percent approve of this idea versus just 18 percent who disapprove, although 37 percent are unsure about how this would work out.”

Murray noted while most people consider the opioid crisis to be a very serious problem, “38 percent of Americans approve of imposing stricter criminal penalties for illegal opioid use, 26 percent disapprove and 36 percent are unsure.”

He pointed out the opioid crisis is a major concern to a lot of people because they have a relationship with someone who’s involved with these drugs.

“This is something that hits close to home. People feel they know this issue well and it’s a major concern," he said.

“Just under half, 46 percent of Americans, say they know someone who’s dealt with an opioid addiction, and that includes 18 percent who say it’s someone in their immediate family.”

Murray also said more whites know someone who has struggled with this drug than blacks.

“Just over half, 52 percent of white Americans, say that they know somebody personally. Just 34 percent of non-whites and Hispanics say that they know somebody. So there is that kind of a difference,” said Murray.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Aug. 10 to 14, 2017, with 805 adults in the United States. The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

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