National Healthcare Survey: RESULTS

PRES Survey Results 160806.001

Who would be best advocate for SUD programs?

Substance abuse costs the United States more than $700 billion annually, and we need 21,200 more substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors by 2024.*

Breining Institute conducted a national survey, August 1-5, 2016, which asked, “Which candidate for President would be the best advocate for substance use disorder (SUD) prevention and treatment programs?”

Purpose of Survey

The purpose of conducting this national survey was to determine the perceived extent of awareness of and commitment to addressing the serious SUD problem facing the United States, by the candidates seeking to be the next President.

Publication of the results of this survey should not be construed as Breining Institute advocating for or against any of the candidates.

The purpose of publishing the survey results is to encourage you to contact the candidate of your choice to reinforce the importance of prevention and treatment programs to address this costly national problem. The election will not be held for a few months, and there is time to make this a priority for all of the candidates.

Survey specifics

This survey was distributed nationally, and received responses from 605 individuals in 38 U.S. States.

The survey participants self-identified their experience with SUD, either as a professional, user, or family or friend of a user, in the following percentages (which equals more than 100% because survey participants could report that they were part of more than one category):

  • 76.8% are / have been SUD Practitioners (which includes counselors, treatment providers, intervention specialists, prevention programs, program supervisors, and program administrators);
  • 44.8% have personal experience as, or a family member or friend who has been, a user / abuser of substances;
  • 9.2% are students enrolled in a SUD higher education program; and
  • 4.8% are educators in a college-level SUD program.

Of the significant number of survey participants who identified themselves as SUD Practitioners, 77.8% indicated that they had earned one or more professional SUD credentials from Breining Institute (which has awarded SUD credentials to professionals in 47 U.S. States).

The survey asked, “As U.S. President, which candidate would be the best advocate for substance use disorders (SUD) prevention and treatment programs, and why?”

The articulated choices included the four individuals with national recognition as candidates, and were listed (in alphabetical order) as Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Donald Trump. The survey participants also had the option to select “Other candidate” and identify the other candidate.

The listed candidates garnered the following percentage of votes / selections:

  • Gary Johnson: 8.7%
  • Jill Stein: 12.3%
  • Donald Trump: 25.4%
  • Hillary Clinton: 50.9%

“Other candidate” option received 2.7% of the votes.

The survey participants were given the option to indicate why they believed their selected candidate would be the best advocate, and representative reasons for selecting the respective candidates are:

  • Gary Johnson:
    • “Because drugs is a health problem and not a criminal problem. Gary Johnson recognizes this and seems like the most educated on what drugs are and do.”
    • “He is the only candidate who has the ability to listen to concerns and take them to heart, doing his part to take action.”
    • “[Mr. Johnson] says our real focus should be reducing death, disease crime and corruption.”
  • Jill Stein:
    • “[She is a] medical doctor with a progressive agenda has the brains, experience and compassion to address SUDs appropriately.”
    • “Because she is a medical doctor and she wants substance abuse to be viewed as a health issue not a crime issue.”
    • “Jill Stein is a physician so I believe she understands that addiction is a disease that requires treatment, and not a moral failing that requires jail.”
  • Donald Trump:
    • “Because Donald Trump understands the need for substance abuse disorders especially in regards to mental health.”
    • “Donald Trump is far more likely to advocate for SUD programs in that he will do so without excessively restrictive government regulations.”
    • “I don’t agree with everything Donald Trump says or how he delivers his message all the time, but I do know he is a man of action. Also the fact that he has personally lost a loved one to addiction, I believe he has a heart for it.”
  • Hillary Clinton:
    • “Clinton has historically endorsed public health programs and efforts. She has a strong commitment to serving those most in need as exemplified by her work with children w/disabilities funding and first responders.”
    • “For one thing she has worked hard to help all Americans get better health coverage. SUD would fall under that category.”
    • “She has a better understanding of what we need to do to get this kind of work de-stigmatized. She also understands that the SUD professionals need to be looked at as health professionals and paid accordingly.”

Thank you for your participation

It is worth restating that there is time to make this a priority for all of the candidates, and we encourage you to contact the candidate of your choice to reinforce the importance of prevention and treatment programs to address this costly national problem.

We wish to express our great appreciation to all of the individuals who took the time to participate in this nationwide survey, providing valuable and insightful comments and observations.

Our top priority at Breining Institute, since 1986, has been to provide current and future addiction professionals with exceptional education and training, and we hope that we are meeting your expectations.

Respectfully submitted,
Breining Institute



  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Trends and Statistics, retrieved August 6, 2016 from
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors, retrieved August 6, 2016 from
  • Breining Institute, Online Job Board