It should be obvious by now that the “War on drugs” is not proving to be as effective as it should, which means that a new approach is required. The United States Surgeon General’s office recently published a new report. In this report, the government, the nation’s various health care departments and organizations, and the public are urged to acknowledge and understand the fact that substance abuse is not a criminal issue. They are urged to realize that substance abuse is a mental health issue and this is apparently the approach that could help change things.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, the current Surgeon General of the United States, claims that this is the first time that such a report has been written on this particular topic. According to him, his goal is to alter the current general perception of the society about substance abuse and substance abuse disorders. He also wishes to prompt the American society into actually working together for the prevention and treatment of these conditions.
Dr. Vivek wants the the addiction epidemic, which has become a major public health crisis, to be eliminated, and his new report is kind of a call to action. The title of the report is “Facing Addiction in America.” According to the report, drug abuse made a detrimental impact on 21 million Americans back in 2001, which is almost the same number of people who were affected by diabetes that year. Furthermore, merely one in ten of those American citizens managed to receive treatment.
Dr. Vivek draws attention to the fact that if merely one ten patients suffering from cancer or diabetes were receiving treatment, it would be something intolerable and unbearable. Yet, the same is happening in the case of substance-abuse disorders. The report includes some very astonishing figures. 12.5 million out of those 21 million people affected by substance abuse disorders are those who have abused prescription opioid painkillers. Compared to 1999, overdose-related deaths in 2015 were four times as much, adding up to approximately 28,500. Out of those who died, merely 10% of them received the assistance they needed.
Also mentioned in the report is fact that for a rather long time, most people have considered alcohol and drug drug abuse as a “moral failing.” Indeed, it is the result of such a view that people with substance abuse disorders avoid admitting that they have a problem and never seek assistance for it.
Over the course of 2015, health care experts, politicians and scientists have presented a considerable amount of evidence so that world leaders may pay increased attention on the “war on drugs” that is proving futile. At the moment, global drug policy has been designed with guidance from law enforcement agencies. However, that needs to change and medical professionals like doctors need to be called in to lend their expertise.
Dr. Vivek’s report clearly refers to addiction and substance abuse disorders as medical conditions. He wants everyone to understand that just like cancer and heart disease, addiction and substance abuse disorders also need to be treated as diseases of the brain. That is true since addicts lose their abilities to control their impulses and make decisions since their brain’s circuitry controlling them is affected by the illicit drugs they take.
The recommendation made in the report is that there is a need to blend general health care and substance-abuse services together with each other so that all who are suffering can be served. Thus, health care professionals need to be compassionate and urgent, and utilize their skill to the utmost for the treatment of these chronic illnesses of the brain.