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Publication - Research Publication

Public attitudes towards people with drug dependence and people in recovery

Published: 10 Jun 2016
ISBN:
9781786522306

Research into public attitudes in Scotland towards people with a history of drug dependence

50 page PDF

771.0kB

50 page PDF

771.0kB

Contents
Public attitudes towards people with drug dependence and people in recovery
Comparisons to UKDPC Research

50 page PDF

771.0kB

Comparisons to UKDPC Research

One of the aims of this project was to compare findings with previous research conducted by the UK Drug Policy Commission ( UKDPC). Conducted in 2010, this research also employed an omnibus approach and included a boost sample for Scotland. The Scottish Government wished to compare the Scottish findings from the 2010 survey to the current omnibus survey conducted with the Scottish population in 2016.

As noted earlier in this report, the 2010 research used a face-to-face rather than an online method, which means that the results are not directly comparable. However, time series analysis is provided here to give an indication of changing attitudes among Scottish respondents towards people who have a history of drug dependence and those in recovery. It is the intention that the current survey will serve as a robust baseline, against which future studies can be compared.

Analysis of the data gathered using the face-to-face method in 2010, compared to the online method adopted in 2016, indicates that the data collection method may have affected the findings. Overall agreement with many of the statements has decreased; however, there is no consistent pattern in terms of positive and negative statements. In other words, people were less likely to agree with negative statements (indicating a positive change in attitudes), but were also less likely to agree with many positive statements (indicating a negative change in attitudes). Caution should, therefore, be used in the interpretation of the findings reported in this section.

The data on the total proportions of the sample agreeing and disagreeing with each statement in both 2010 and 2016 is tabulated, and the commentary highlights differences that are statistically significant.

Table 6: Blame and intolerance of people with drug dependence

2010 2016
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
One of the main causes of drug dependence is a lack of self-discipline and willpower 59% 26% 42% 31%
There is something about people with drug dependence that makes it easy to tell them from other people 56% 31% 38% 31%
Increased spending on services for people trying to overcome drug dependence would be a waste of money 32% 52% 26% 46%
People with drug dependence don't deserve our sympathy 26% 57% 21% 55%
If people with drug dependence really wanted to stop using they could do so 53% 32% 37% 41%

Base 2010 (All): 566; Base 2016 (All): 1089

A significantly lower proportion of the sample agreed with all of these statements in 2016 than agreed with them in 2010.

However, the pattern was not as clear in relation to disagreement: there was no difference in the proportion disagreeing that you can tell people with drug dependence from other people or that people with drug dependence don't deserve our sympathy, while higher proportions disagreed that a lack of willpower is a main cause of the issue or that people could stop using drugs if they really wanted to.

There had been a decrease in the proportion of people disagreeing with the statement about increasing funding, as well a decrease in the proportion of people agreeing, i.e. fewer people had an opinion overall in relation to this statement.

Table 7: Sympathy and care towards people with drug dependence

2010 2016
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
Drug dependence is an illness like any other long-term chronic health problem 58% 34% 58% 25%
Drug dependence is often caused by traumatic experiences, such as abuse, poverty and bereavement 55% 32% 50% 21%
We need to adopt a far more tolerant attitude towards people with a history of drug dependence in our society 55% 27% 42% 30%
We have a responsibility to provide the best possible care for people with drug dependence 66% 21% 53% 22%
People with a history of drug dependence are far less of a danger than most people think 41% 34% 32% 34%
People with a history of drug dependence are too often demonised in the media 63% 18% 55% 17%

Base 2010 (All): 566; Base 2016 (All): 1089

A significantly lower proportion of the sample agreed with all of these statements in 2016 than agreed with them in 2010, with the exception of the statement about drug dependence being an illness. There had been no change in the proportion agreeing with this statement, although a smaller proportion now disagreed.

Although the drop in agreement may suggest a reduction in sympathy and care towards people with drug dependence, there was also a reduction in the proportion disagreeing that drug dependence is often caused by traumatic experiences. There was no significant difference in the proportion of people disagreeing with the other statements.

Table 8: Fear and exclusion of people with a history of drug dependence

2010 2016
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
People with a history of drug dependence are a burden on society 55% 27% 44% 28%
A person would be foolish to enter into a serious relationship with a person who has suffered from drug dependence, even if they seemed fully recovered 40% 39% 32% 38%
I would not want to live next door to someone who has been dependent on drugs 49% 32% 50% 22%
Anyone with a history of drug dependence should be excluded from taking public office (e.g. being on the local council) 45% 34% 34% 39%
Most people who were once dependent on drugs can be trusted as babysitters 22% 55% 19% 38%
Residents have nothing to fear from people coming into their neighbourhood to obtain drug treatment services 33% 46% 23% 46%

Base 2010 (All): 566; Base 2016 (All): 1089

A significantly lower proportion of the sample agreed with most of these statements in 2016 than agreed with them in 2010, with the exception of the statements about not wanting to live next door to someone who has been dependent on drugs, and the statement that most people who were once dependent on drugs can be trusted as babysitters. However, for both of these statements there had been a decrease in the proportion of respondents disagreeing, suggesting an increase in concern about having a neighbour or babysitter with a history of drug dependence.

Table 9: Acceptance and integration of people with a history of drug dependence

2010 2016
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
People who become dependent on drugs are basically just bad people 8% 83% 7% 71%
Virtually anyone can become dependent on drugs 82% 13% 73% 13%
It is important for people recovering from drug dependence to be part of the community 80% 9% 64% 9%
People recovering from drug dependence should have the same rights to a job as anyone else 75% 14% 57% 14%

Base 2010 (All): 566; Base 2016 (All): 1089

In 2016, more respondents agreed that virtually anyone can become dependent on drugs, that those recovering should be part of the community, and have the same job rights as everyone else. There was no change in the proportion agreeing that those affected are basically just bad people, although fewer people disagreed with this statement in 2016 than in 2010.

Table 10: Recovery from drug dependence

2010 2016
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
People can never completely recover from drug dependence 38% 46% 37% 32%
People taking medication like methadone to treat their drug dependence and no longer use illegal drugs, can be considered recovered 9% 77% 7% 74%

Base 2010 (All): 566; Base 2016 (All): 1089

The proportions agreeing with both of the statements on recovery from drug dependence was consistent between the two surveys. However, fewer people disagreed that people can never completely recover from drug dependence in 2016.

Table 11: Attitudes towards family members of people with drug dependence

2010 2016
Statement Agree Disagree Agree Disagree
Most people would not become dependent on drugs if they had good parents 15% 76% 12% 62%
Parents would be foolish to let their children play in the park with children of someone who has a history of drug dependence 29% 56% 26% 44%

Base 2010 (All): 566; Base 2016 (All): 1089

The proportions agreeing with both of the statements about attitudes towards family members were consistent between the two surveys. However, fewer people disagreed with both of these statements, suggesting an increase in negative opinions in relation to family members of those with a history of drug dependence.


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