Surgeon General Report – Facing Addiction In America

Categories: Updates from the Center

New Report Addresses Addiction In America

On January 11, 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D.,  then Surgeon General of the United States, released Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee of the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. This was the first in the series that is now generally referred to as the Surgeon General’s reports.

In the most current Surgeon General Report, the U.S. Surgeon General last week announced plans to tackle alcohol and drug abuse, particularly opioid addiction, in a first-of-its-kind report — urging doctors, policymakers and the public to ramp up efforts to combat the the growing U.S. healthcare crisis.

The 400 page report “Facing Addiction in America,” by the current U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., has as its basis the theme that addiction is an illness and not a moral failing.

The detailed report notes the scientific evidence that demonstrates two important factors that are valuable for all types of substance addiction. These are early medical intervention and the success of addiction treatments.

Murthy writes that both of these approaches are underutilized by most healthcare professionals, citing that only 1 in 10 people receive the treatment they need to effectively resolve their addiction. The report says that here were nearly 21 million people suffering with some sort of addiction disorder last year, but of these only approximately one in 10 were receiving any treatment.

The Surgeon General believes the public should treat the problem the same way it handled cigarette smoking in the 1960s and 1970s, as a public health crisis. Another recent similar example is the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

The report provides a special focus on substantially reducing prescription opioid addiction and misuse, even though it takes on alcohol, and legal and illegal substances of all types.

The Surgeon General’s underscored the need for immediate and urgent action—and called for more responsible prescribing of medications – especially opioid medications – by doctors.

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