First Ever Surgeon General Report On Addiction

Kevin Klenkel | Kevin Klenkel is an intern at The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Dr. Vivek Murthy released the premier Surgeon General Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health Thursday, titled, “Facing Addiction in America.”

In 428 pages, Murthy covers a subject he considers “one of the most pressing public health crises of our time,” specifically, reducing individual and public substance misuse, use disorder, and related consequences.

In the past, addiction was considered a moral shortfall, arguably keeping many from seeking addiction treatment. This release likens addiction to chronic conditions that can be managed effectively with medication, behavior and lifestyle changes, comparing addictive drug abuse to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The study suggests that health care and substance use disorder treatment need to be integrated.

The United States, which consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids, had 47,055 drug overdose deaths in 2014, 61 percent of the deaths were the result of opioids, either prescriptions or heroin.

Seventy-eight people die each day from opioid overdose, NBC reports. Addiction now claims more lives than car accidents, a phenomenon that not only affects users but families and communities.

Substance misuse and related disorders are also a concern economically, with more than $400 billion lost annually due to crime, health, and reduced productivity. Opioids alone account for nearly $80 billion of such costs. “Facing Addiction” claimed that every dollar spent on prevention saves $4 on health care and $7 on criminal justice costs.

Even though more Americans use opioid painkillers than tobacco, only one in ten opioid users gets treatment.

Though Dr. Murthy has only a short time left in office, President-elect Trump calls the current drug epidemic a “tremendous problem.” Trump is no stranger to the problems brought on by addiction; his brother Freddy died of alcoholism at 43.

Murthy hopes to curb use by preventing people from starting to misuse opioids “make sure they don’t get hooked.”

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