Partisan affiliation, racial attitudes, and opioid use disorder (OUD) stigma influence public support for policies to address such disorders. Prior studies suggest public perceptions of the opioid epidemic are less racialized and less politically polarized than were public perceptions of the crack cocaine epidemic. Analyzing a cross-sectional, nationally representative sample (n=1,161 U.S. adults) from the October 2020 AmeriSpeak survey, we explored how partisan affiliation, racial attitudes (as captured in the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale [CoBRAS]), and OUD stigma were associated with respondents’ expressed views regarding four critical domains. Respondents with unfavorable attitudes towards Black Americans were less likely to support expanding Medicaid funding or other increasing government spending to provide services for people living with OUD, and were less supportive of naloxone distribution for overdose prevention. Democratic Party affiliation was associated with greater support for all three of the above measures, and increased support for mandatory treatment, which may be seen as a substitute for more punitive interventions. Black respondents were also less likely to support expanding Medicaid funding or other increasing government spending to provide services for people living with OUD, and were less supportive of naloxone distribution for overdose prevention. Our finding suggest that negative attitudes towards African-Americans and partisan differences remain important factors. Our findings also suggest that culturally-competent dialogue within politically conservative and Black communities may be important to engage public support for evidence-informed treatment and prevention.
Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice.
Department of Public Health Sciences.
University of Chicago Urban Labs
Affiliate Professor, Biological Sciences Collegiate Division
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