Previous reports state that in 2015 alone, as many as 20.8 million Americans suffered from substance-abuse disorders. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says that alcohol addiction and drug use are no different from AIDS and other public health crises.
Surgeon General’s report, “Facing Addiction” is a “call to action around what has become a pressing public health issue”, according to Murthy. As a result, he pulled together the latest information on the negative health impacts alcohol addiction and drug use carry.
Facing Addiction Highlights
Vivek Murthy concludes that an increasing overdose epidemic has killed more than half a million Americans since 2000. As a result, he goes on to present substantial evidence as to alcohol and drug use are treatable brain diseases.
The general public sees addiction as moral failing. Murthy’s report shows that while modern treatments are effective, the relapse rates compare to those of people suffering from other chronic diseases. Such affections include even diabetes.
“For a person to enter remission, it can take up to a year of abstinence”, says Vivek Murthy. Furthermore, the studies show that a person who begins drinking before the age of 15 will develop alcohol addiction four times faster than someone who starts after 21.
One section of the report focuses on the neurobiology of addiction. This states the pain and pleasure functions of the brain merge together. Ultimately, this makes overcoming alcohol and drug use extremely difficult. Also, excessive use of these substances disrupts the area of the brain that controls impulse. As a result, this reduces an individual’s ability to stay clear of alcohol and drugs.
Vivek Murthy’s Thoughts on the General Situation
In 2015, more than 27 million people admitted to using illegal drugs and alcohol abuse. Furthermore, no less than 66 million Americans reported binge drinking in previous months. Hence, “we have a crisis of addiction od significant scale”, Murthy says.
His main goal is to implement extensive treatments for both alcohol addiction and drug use. At the same time, he places such disorders on the same level with other serious health threats. “We would never tolerate a situation where only one in ten people with cancer gets treatment. Yet we do that with substance-abuse disorders”, says Murthy.
Another issue at stake is that people perceive substance addiction as social stigma. As a result, few people are willing to acknowledge their misuse. This makes it harder for addicts to come forth and seek medical help.
“Unless we eradicate the negative stereotypes we won’t create an environment where people feel comfortable coming forward and asking for help”, states Vivek Murthy.
Ultimately, the Surgeon General stands by his creed. Hence, he insists that addiction in itself is a brain disease before anything else.
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