A groundbreaking new report from the Surgeon General provides some important research on drug and alcohol addiction.
A huge report released by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy asserts that drug and alcohol addiction should be right up there with smoking, AIDS and other public health crises, going so far as to call the epidemic a “moral test for America.”
The report, titled “Facing Addiction,” is a comprehensive examination of the health impacts of abuse of drugs and alcohol, and it also takes a deep look at treatment and prevention. Overdoses have taken the lives of more than 500,000 Americans since 2000, and the medical community should be approaching it as a brain disease that can be treated with therapy, meaning there is hope to stop its spread.
The report estimates that 20.8 million people in the United States suffer from some type of substance abuse disorder, which is the same amount of people roughly that suffer from diabetes, and 1.5 times more than those with cancer. Even so, just 10 percent of these people get treatment.
“I recognize there is no single solution,” Murthy said in a preface to his report. “We need more policies and programs that increase access to proven treatment modalities. We need to invest more in expanding the scientific evidence base for prevention, treatment, and recovery. We also need a cultural shift in how we think about addiction. For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing. This unfortunate stigma has created an added burden of shame that has made people with substance use disorders less likely to come forward and seek help. It has also made it more challenging to marshal the necessary investments in prevention and treatment. We must help everyone see that addiction is not a character flaw – it is a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”