For the first time in history, the official site of the U.S. Surgeon General has published a report dedicated to substance abuse – "Facing Addiction in America. Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health"
In their comments, the American media recall the landmark report by the head of the U.S. public health service on smoking (1964). That report resulted in a sharp reduction in the number of smokers and thus has saved millions of lives. Now, scientists and officials hope that the report by Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, will give rise to more research into treatment and rehabilitation of substance addicts.
"Addiction is not a character flaw – it is a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer," says Murthy in his preface to the report. "For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing. This unfortunate stigma has created an added burden of shame that has made people with substance use disorders less likely to come forward and seek help," the preface reads.
According to the report, nearly 48 million Americans had a substance use experience in 2015. Moreover, nearly 21 million people in America had a substance use disorder – more than the number of Americans suffering from all cancers combined, and only 10 percent of them were undergoing treatment.
Murthy calls the stereotypes created by society regarding substance misuse the most acute public health crisis presently.