Surgeon General’s New Report Calls to Further Action Against Addiction
Across the United States, someone dies as the result of opioid or heroin overdose every 19 minutes. One in seven Americans suffers from substance addiction, yet only 10% of addicts will receive treatment for their disorder. In a federal report released Thursday by the surgeon general, Vivek Murthy urges further action in the battle against addiction.
According to the report, nearly 21 million Americans have been affected by a substance abuse disorder in the last year. This is roughly equivalent to the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes. “We would never tolerate a situation where only one in 10 people with cancer or diabetes gets treatment, and yet we do that with substance-abuse disorders… We must help everyone see that addiction is not a character flaw or a moral failing,” Murthy said. “It’s a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
Murthy’s report also states the negative stigma associated with addiction often acts as an added burden of shame that has made people struggling with addiction less likely to come forward and seek help. He advocates for increased screenings in doctor’s offices, but more importantly a change in our perception of people battling an addiction. “Our whole approach to substance abuse disorders is they’re illegal and you go to jail,” he said. “It’s the only illness for which you send people to jail, for long long periods of time.”
In fact, the economic impact of drug and alcohol addiction amounts to $442 billion each year. “At a time when we are resource-constrained already, we cannot afford, for humanitarian reasons or financial reasons, to not address addiction in America.” Investment of just $1 in viable treatment options for substance abuse disorders saves $7 in criminal justice costs. Murthy argues that it is time we treat addiction as the disease it is so that we may create more patients and fewer prisoners.
Obamacare was one of the first glimmers of hope for those seeking treatment, but in the wake of this month’s election many are worried about an overhaul. The Affordable Care Act made it possible for upwards of 20 million people to receive health insurance, and without it we may see an even further decrease in access to addiction treatment services. Regardless of what happens over the next four years, Murthy says continuing to expand coverage will be key in addressing addiction. If we can make proper education, prevention, and treatment more widely available, we may have a chance in the war against addiction.
At A New Start, Inc., we recognize that addiction is a chronic disease and believe that an individualized treatment plan is the starting point for recovery. If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance abuse disorder, the Intensive Outpatient Program at A New Start, Inc. can help. Our program allows patients to get proper treatment while maintaining their daily lives and obligations such as work or school. For more information about A New Start and our IOP in West Palm Beach, please contact us today at 1-844-TALK-ANS.