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Surgeon General releases landmark report on alcohol, drugs

  • Trudy.Sharp
  • 12/12/2016 10:29:00 AM
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Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health addresses alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drug misuse, with chapters dedicated to neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration and recommendations for the future. It provides an in-depth look at the science of substance use disorders and addiction, calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue, and recommends actions we can take to prevent and treat these conditions, and promote recovery.

In issuing the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on substance abuse and addiction, Dr. Vivek Murthy said he hoped it will galvanize work on the issue the way a similar report a half century earlier sparked decades of effort to combat tobacco use. “The most important thing is, we have to change attitudes towards addiction and get people into treatment,” Murthy said in an interview. “Addiction is a disease of the brain, not a character flaw,” he added.

The estimated annual economic impact of drug abuse is $193 billion, the report states, while the estimated economic impact of alcohol abuse is $249 billion. Every dollar invested in treatment saves $4 in health care costs and lost productivity and $7 in criminal justice costs, the report said. In an interview with NPR, Dr. Murthy also cited a return on investment of $64 for prevention services.

The report urges a holistic approach to battling the addiction epidemic that should involve policy makers, regulators, scientists, families, schools and communities. Murthy stressed the importance of intervening early through school programs to discourage access to alcohol. The report also calls for more investment in research and new types of treatment programs. Review other key findings.

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