• By Vivien Williams

Addiction crisis: A new report from the surgeon general

November 17, 2016

pile of prescription drug bottles 16x9In response to the addiction crisis happening in the U.S., Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. This publication addresses the public health challenges addiction presents for individuals, families and society, and claims that now is the time to act.

According to the report:

  • More than 27 million people have reported abusing illicit or prescription drugs.
  • More than 66 million people have reported binge drinking in the past month.
  • Alcohol abuse costs $249 billion.
  • Illicit drug use costs $193 billion.

Dr. Murthy says that, despite the health and economic issues associated with addiction, this is a time of great opportunity. He is committed to improving prevention and treatment of substance abuse. He writes, “We’re going to stop treating addiction as a moral failing and start seeing it for what it is: a chronic disease that must be treated with urgency and compassion."

Mayo Clinic addiction specialist, Dr. Jon Ebbert says, “The release of the first-ever surgeon general report on substance use disorder is a clarion call to address the multitude of substance-related epidemics sweeping our nation and claiming the lives of individuals suffering from addiction. It is also a shot across the bow on our societal views which have treated substance use disorder as a moral failing or weakness to catastrophic consequences. Changing the way we think about addiction will allow us to have informed discussions on how best to combine clinical practice, education, research and policy into a framework for managing one of the most significant epidemics of our lifetime.”

Mayo Clinic pain medicine specialist Dr. Mike Hooten thinks the new report is key to addressing the epidemic. "The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health sends a strong message that, although substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, are complex, multifaceted health conditions, evidence-based treatments are available which should, in turn, help mitigate the social stigma that burdens the lives of many individuals on daily basis."

The surgeon general says most Americans know someone who suffers from substance abuse, but by leveraging research about addiction, support services, new treatments and new policies, there is great hope for better care for alcohol and drug misuse problems in the U.S.

 

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