One in Four Households Have a Member Who Has Taken Prescription Pain Relievers In Past Year

NEW BRUNSWICK and MADISON, NJ – Nearly 85% of all respondents believe use of prescribed and illegal opioid drugs is a “very” (67%) or “somewhat” (28%) serious problem in New Jersey, according to a joint Rutgers-Eagleton/Fairleigh Dickinson University poll in collaboration with the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.

Additionally, one quarter of New Jersey residents (23%) say they or a family member have taken a prescription opioid painkiller in the past 12 months. Four percent of the New Jerseyans surveyed admit they or a family member misused prescription pain relievers during the past year -- either by using them more frequently than prescribed or by using a pain reliever not prescribed to them by a healthcare provider. 

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These numbers have changed little since Rutgers-Eagleton last polled about the severity of the epidemic in June 2018. Two percent say they or a family member have sought care for any kind of drug addiction in the past 12 months.

“Addressing opioid misuse and addiction is a defining public health challenge of our time,” said Joel C. Cantor, director of the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy. “The large number of adults using more opioids than prescribed, or using drugs not prescribed for them, raises serious challenges for doctors and other prescribers to assure proper use of these powerful medicines.” 

A large majority also believes the use of opioid drugs is a serious problem in their own community. Three-quarters say opioid addiction is a serious problem in their community (34% “very,” 40% “somewhat”). Twenty percent say the problem is “not very serious” in their community, and 6% do not see it as a problem at all. 

In this poll, 1,250 adults were contacted between March 7 and 22, 2019. 

Rutgers University–New Brunswick was established more than 250 years ago and is ranked among the world’s top 60 universities.  

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, ECPIP was established in 1971 and is the oldest and one of the most respected university-based state survey research centers in the U.S. To read more about ECPIP and view all of our press releases and published research, visit

The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University explores state and national politics through research, education, and public service, linking the study of politics with its day-to-day practice. Visit

The Rutgers Center for State Health Policy informs, supports, and stimulates sound and creative state health policy in New Jersey and around the nation. Established in 1999, the Center combines Rutgers's traditional academic strengths in public health, health services research, and social science with applied research and policy analysis initiatives. For more information, visit

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) is the largest private university in New Jersey. Founded in 1942, FDU offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including doctoral programs in pharmacy, nursing practice, clinical psychology and school psychology.

For the second year, the FDU Poll received an “A” rating from statistician Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. The ratings measure both accuracy and bias for all major polling services in the United States, providing an update to similar research the poll watchers conducted in 2014. FDU’s “A” rating puts it in the top 15 of the more than 380 polling institutes reviewed and graded from A+ through F. The FDU poll was found to have a 94% accuracy rate for predicting election results, and is one of only three A-rated polling institutes with zero bias to their rankings. Visit