On Thursday, November 17th, the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murphy, issued a report entitled “Facing Addiction in America.” It highlights the important of a how we go about tackling one of the greatest public health crisis’s that our nation has ever faced.
The report opens with the following statement:
“All across the United States, individuals, families, communities, and health
care systems are struggling to cope with substance use, misuse, and substance
use disorders. Substance misuse and substance use disorders have devastating
effects, disrupt the future plans of too many young people, and all too often,
end lives prematurely and tragically. Substance misuse is a major public health
challenge and a priority for our nation to address.”
According to NPR, more people use prescription opioids than tobacco. In addition, there are more people who are suffering from substance abuse than there are cases of cancer. Statistics also show that one in five Americans binge drinks. Substance abuse disorders cost the U.S. more than $420 billion a year.
NPR also stated that an estimated 21 million people in our country are living with a substance use disorder, facts which are backed up by SAMSHA and other sources.
Surgeon General’s Report – Some Grim Facts
In the surgeon general’s report on addiction, it states that “Tens of thousands of lives that are lost each year as a result of substance misuse. Alcohol misuse contributes to 88,000 deaths in the United States each year; 1 in 10 deaths among working adults are due to alcohol misuse.
In addition, in 2014 there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths including 28,647 people who died from a drug overdose involving some type of opioid, including prescription pain relievers and heroin—more than in any previous year on record
Surgeon General’s – the Economics of Substance Abuse
The Surgeon General’s report states that alcohol misuse, illicit drug use, misuse of medications, and substance use disorders cost the United States more than $400 billion each year.
These expenses are in the form of lost workplace productivity (in part, due to premature death), health care expenses, law enforcement, drug-related crimes, court costs, and losses from motor vehicle crashes.
Approximately 3/4ths of the costs associated with alcohol use are from binge drinking. About 40% of that cost is paid by government. This represents a massive expense to taxpayers.
Does the Surgeon General have suggestions for battling the Addiction Epidemic?
There may be some good, solid treatment strategies we can use to address multiple substance use disorders. NPR has suggested that school-based, community-based, and online programs may make a huge positive impact.
The thought process regarding this is that children can learn to manage stress in a healthy way. Stress, trauma, and other emotional conflicts are thought to be a big reason that young children turn to substance abuse. Certainly there are many options that are available for treatment, or being made available.
If you are interested in reading the entire Surgeon General’s report, you can download it here.