U

S Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a lengthy new report Thursday morning on the addiction crisis in America — and what can be done to put a stop to it.

More than 27 million people in the US reported using illegal drugs or abusing prescription drugs in 2015 and more than 66 million people reported binge drinking in the past month.

“Substance abuse disorders affect nearly everyone in America, whether directly or indirectly,” Murthy said on a call Thursday.

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It’s estimated that alcohol misuse cost the US $249 billion a year, with illicit drug use and abuse running another $193 billion each year. Despite that toll, substance abuse disorders haven’t been given the same weight as other widespread health issues.

The surgeon general said he’d also like to see a culture shift in how the public views addiction.

“It is not a moral failing, or evidence of a character flaw, but a chronic disease of the brain that deserves our compassion and care,” Murthy said. The report said doctors can take the lead by making clear this is a problem to fight with medicine and counseling, not imprisonment.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Murthy’s report says substance abuse must be identified in general health settings, including primary, psychiatry, and emergency care. Effective screening will help create individual treatment plans.
  • The report attacks the misconception that medication “substitutes one addiction for another.” That is unscientific bunk. Murthy noted that increasing access to medicine — methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone — is crucial to fighting the opioid crisis.
  • Substance abuse treatment is not just the work of individual specialists. It should be treated by a mix of caregivers — social workers, recovery specialists, nutritionists — just like diabetes or cancer.

Those messages are resonating with medical professionals and advocates on the ground.

“The surgeon general is taking unprecedented action this week on what has become a leading cause of death for young people in America,” said Greg Williams, cofounder of Facing Addiction. “Turning the tide on the addiction crisis is going to require new bold action from all sectors.”

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  • I have been on methadone for horrific diabetic neuropathy since 1995. I can’t take the conventual meds such as lyrica (major depression), cimbalta (nausea and constant vomiting whether I eat or not) and neurotic (suicidal). I was taking 30mg a day. Now my np has lowered the dose to 20mg and is taking me off of it. My quality of life is now horrible. It’s not withdraws so much but it’s the pain I’m now in. I feel as if no one cares they just want me off of it. I’m almost considering going to go for illegal drugs. I’m a 60 year old woman with only one foot. What do I do???

  • as is generally missing the point. heroin is the”opoid epidemic ” pills r so tightly controlled that its a blip on the radar,even the news shows its heroin n illegal import fentnyl. i have chronic pain,bone on bone s5l1 ,failing hip hardware to name a few. opoiate and opoids r 2 different meds,one synthetic. btw ,new compound buo8028 at wake forest baptist s.c. may b a game changer but no money in a cure,right?? when u suffer pain thru your body n tell me you wont accept the meds come talk to me. like trying to walk your day with a broken leg,pain meds work,n the cdc guidelines of 2017 clearly state its not a law or rule,but ins cos use it to save money making it mandatory. bs. hope i dont kill myself from needing and not getting relief. plus,we need a class action for starting the pill problem,they wrote the meds n got cash kick backs. sue every dr that wrote those meds.

  • I was taken off my pain meds by the VA. I have chronic lower back, neck, and knee pain. When i was on my pain meds i was more active than I am now that i’m off. Now I sit, lay down constantly. I know that I can’t be the only veteran that is suffering from chronic pain that has been removed from opioids as a result of the surgeon generals decision to crack down on opioids. So what is the surgeons generals take on maybe trying to get the VA to fix the chronic pain through surgery or newer methods for pain relief, instead of just saying sorry no more pain meds for you. I’ll admit it sucked being on opioids, but it’s no so great being in chronic pain either.

  • It’s not a disease thousands of people just suddenly developed the addiction disease please. 13 years I was on norco quit one day that was 2 years ago. It is sadness and complacency and ect.. that leads to addiction. Example 22 year old realizes that market is flooded in her field she’s 100 grand in debt she can’t declare bankruptcy and can’t get a job doing what she indebted her self for she tries a pill a friend gives her things suddenly don’t look so terrible

  • I battle a two edge sword every day. For one I’m in chronic pain and two I’m dependant on pain killers to help. I’m always fighting to take my meds like prescribed. It’s a never ending battle. Plus a lot of the staff people that u have to deal with have already pegged you as just another person wanting pills. They don’t know anything about me or that I have been fighting this battle for thirty odd years. It’s a hard life and I have tried everything imaginable to help with my pain

  • The first time you use it is a character flaw. The key is to make sure there is no first time.
    If you want to have a bad life, just do drugs. It works every time!

    • So being prescribed pain medication by a doctor is a moral failing? Good grief, I’m very sorry for you and those close to you if that’s a tenant of your morality.

    • This statement is so foolish and close-minded it is difficult to take it seriously. It is unbelievably naive to assume we can stop people from using that first time. We need to focus on how to help the people that already have, and fallen to the disease.

    • It’s not a disease thousands of people just suddenly developed the addiction disease please. 13 years I was on norco quit one day that was 2 years ago. It is sadness and complacency and ect.. that leads to addiction. Example 22 year old realizes that market is flooded in her field she’s 100 grand in debt she can’t declare bankruptcy and can’t get a job doing what she indebted her self for she tries a pill a friend gives her things suddenly don’t look so terrible

    • Let me ask you a question chuck. If you couldn’t sleep, barely eat and your quality of life was non existent due to the fact that your in horrible pain every moment of the day and having a little pain med increased your quality of life would that be considered a character flaw???

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