Alcohol

Addicts' Family Members Say Lack of Willpower Top Addiction Factor

Ease of obtaining drugs or alcohol and psychological illness also cited as top factors

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The predominant factors in their family members' addictions to drugs or alcohol, according to immediate family members of addicts or former addicts, are a lack of will power, the ease of obtaining drugs or alcohol, and psychological illnesses such as depression or anxiety. Genetic traits that addicts are born with and living in situations where other family members use drugs or alcohol were least likely to be perceived as a factor. Only about a third of respondents say the addicted family member has ever been evaluated for any psychological illness, such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder.

These results are based on a recent USA Today/HBO Family Drug Addiction survey, conducted by the Gallup Poll from April 27-May 31, 2006, with a randomly selected sample of 902 adults with an immediate family member who has or had a drug or alcohol addiction. Twenty percent of all Americans contacted for this survey indicate that they had an immediate family member (father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or spouse) with a drug or alcohol addiction.

Overall Results

The survey asked family members of addicts to rate whether seven items are or were a major factor in their family members' drug or alcohol addiction, a minor factor, or not a factor at all.

Factors in Family Member's Drug or Alcohol Addiction

Major factor

Minor factor

Not a factor

%

%

%

Lacking willpower

55

27

16

Living in a situation where drugs or alcohol were easy to obtain

54

25

19

A psychological illness, such as depression or anxiety

50

26

20

Having major personal, family, financial, or job problems

45

27

26

Living in a situation where there were social pressures to take drugs or drink alcohol

42

29

26

A genetic trait they were born with

34

26

34

Living in a situation where other family members used drugs or alcohol

32

24

43

At least half of respondents name three items as a major factor: a lack of willpower (55%), a living situation where drugs and alcohol were easy to obtain (54%), and a psychological illness, such as depression or anxiety (50%). Roughly 4 in 10 respondents say "having major personal, family, financial, or job problems" (45%) and "living in a situation where there are social pressures to take drugs or drink alcohol" (42%) are major factors. At the bottom of the list, with roughly one in three saying each is a major factor, is the presence of a genetic trait that pushes people to use drugs or alcohol and a living situation in which other family members used drugs or alcohol. It should be noted that a majority of respondents cite each of the seven factors as at least a minor factor.

The poll also asked family members of current and former addicts if the addicted family member was ever evaluated for any psychological illness such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder. Thirty-seven percent of respondents say this relative was evaluated, while more than half (53%) say they were not.

Alcohol vs. Drug Abuse

There is some variation in the perceived addiction factors, according to whether the respondent's family member was addicted to drugs (including illegal drugs and prescription drugs) or alcohol.

Factors in Family Member's Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Results by Type of Addiction

Percentage saying "major factor"

Alcohol
addicts

Drug
addicts

NET: alcohol
minus drug

%

%

A genetic trait they were born with

38

27

+11

Living in a situation where other family members used drugs or alcohol

34

29

+5

A psychological illness, such as depression or anxiety

51

50

+1

Having major personal, family, financial, or job problems

47

49

-2

Lacking willpower

54

61

-7

Living in a situation where drugs or alcohol were easy to obtain

53

60

-7

Living in a situation where there were social pressures to take drugs or drink alcohol

41

49

-8

Those whose family member was addicted to alcohol (38%) are more likely than those whose family member was addicted to drugs (27%) to attribute genetics as a major factor in the addiction, but overall, genetics still ranks near the bottom of both lists. Conversely, families who have dealt with a drug addiction are more likely to say social pressures to take drugs (49% vs. 41% of those with a family member with an alcohol addiction), living in a situation in which drugs were easy to obtain (60% vs. 53%), and a lack of willpower (61% vs. 54%). Lack of willpower, the ease of obtaining drugs or alcohol, and the existence of a psychological illness are the top-rated factors for both types of addictions.

Greater differences are observed in responses to the question about whether the addicted family member has ever been evaluated for a psychological illness. More than half (51%) of respondents whose family member is addicted to drugs say that person was evaluated for a psychological illness, while only 34% of those related to an alcoholic answer this way.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted April 27-May 31, 2006, with a random sample of 902 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, with an immediate family member who has had a drug or alcohol addiction. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. Twenty percent of national adults contacted for this survey indicated that they had an immediate family member who has had an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/24094/Addicts-Family-Members-Say-Lack-Willpower-Top-Addiction-Factor.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030