surgeon general advocates evolution substance abuse treatment

According to a new report from the U.S. Surgeon General, one in seven people in the U.S. will face a substance abuse disorder over the course of their lifetime. And only 10 percent of Americans who need addiction recovery treatment receive it.

The report advocates for a reasoned and informed realignment of strategies for combating burgeoning addiction rate, and pushes for a change in the way the United States approaches those struggling with chemical dependency, urging a change in the perception of addiction as something that should be stigmatized.

The Surgeon General’s report, entitledFacing Addiction in America,” does not include much new research, but instead considers and analyzes a wide spectrum of available research.

These reports are issued at the discretion of the Surgeon General when the United States faces a health concern that requires action. In the past, reports have been produced on topics such as suicide prevention and tobacco use, as well as HIV and AIDS.

Staggering Addiction Rates

According to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, substance abuse in the United States has reached crisis levels, necessitating the release of the report, as well as the preventative and treatment strategies contained within. Currently, more than 20.9 million people in the U.S. are affected by substance abuse disorders, the same number of individuals who suffer from diabetes, and more than one and a half times the number of individuals who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer.

The impact doesn’t end with those who will struggle with addiction themselves, however. In 2015, about 28 million people stated that they had driven under the influence, presenting a danger to others on the road. Furthermore, the economic impact of alcohol and drug abuse on the country is staggering, exceeding $440 billion each year.

Treatment Concerns

Dr. Murthy isn’t ready to surrender to these staggering statistics, however.

Instead, the report identifies areas that might provide opportunities for improvement. For example, while the economic impact is staggering, Dr. Murthy stressed that adequate investment in addiction treatment can not only foster recovery, it can also provide considerable fiscal relief. He stated that every $1 spent on viable addiction recovery treatment translates to $4 in saved health care costs and $7 saved in criminal justice costs.

While the Affordable Care Act ensured that addiction recovery treatment was an essential benefit that had to be offered by health care providers, and with the future of the ACA in question, it is unclear whether or not Americans will… (continue reading)