By: Gene Migliaccio
Substance misuse and its harms are a pervasive problem in the United States. Not only are individuals and families struggling with the consequences of this serious issue, but the effects also have far-reaching consequences on workplaces, the health care system, families, states, and communities. In the United States:
- Almost 67 million people reported binge drinking in the past month.
- Nearly 48 million people said they used an illicit drug or misused prescription drugs in the past year.
- In 2015, nearly 21 million people had a medically diagnosed substance use disorder, but only 1 in 10 received any type of treatment.
- One in seven people (14.6 percent of the population) are expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
- Nearly 30,000 people died from overdosing on prescription drugs in 2014.
- Substance misuse and substance use disorders are estimated to cost society $442 billion each year in health care costs, lost productivity, and criminal justice costs.
- Prevention works. Treatment is effective. Recovery is possible for everyone.
- We can take action now by eradicating negative attitudes and changing the way people think about addiction.
It’s time for a change. Substance misuse and addiction are solvable problems. We have reason for hope and optimism. Through research, we have new knowledge and clear conclusions that addiction is a chronic brain disease that requires medical intervention, not moral judgment. Scientifically tested prevention programs and policies are available to reduce people’s risk of misusing alcohol and drugs. Treatment is effective and more than 25 million people are in remission from drug or alcohol use disorder. We also know that long-term recovery is possible. Ongoing recovery support services, like mutual aid, recovery coaches, and recovery housing, assist people in building a healthy, productive life. We can, and must, inspire and catalyze action on this crisis. The launch of the historic report, The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, addresses the issue in clear and understandable language. It shows us that everyone has a role to play in changing the conversation about substance use to improve the health, safety, and well-being of individuals and communities across our nation. The Report provides suggestions and recommended actions for individuals, families, community leaders, health care professionals, the private sector, policymakers, and researchers. I encourage you to visit the website to review the Report and related materials today. The information and findings will inspire and help you take action. Together we can improve the health of those we love and reduce the impact of substance misuse and addiction on our nation. https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/