Surgeon General: Addiction Is a Chronic Illness Affecting the Entire Country
Addiction Is a Chronic Illness, In a groundbreaking Surgeon General report on substance abuse, Dr. Vivek Murthy asserted that drug and alcohol addiction is a vastly undertreated chronic illness affecting all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. He stressed that, to reduce the nation’s sky-high addiction and relapse rates, we must come together as a society to offer access to existing treatment programs while also expanding newer and more effective programs.
Addiction Is A Chronic Illness
The report’s key findings
Per the report summary, more than 27 million people in the U.S. used drugs illegally in 2015. This staggering number includes both street drugs and prescription medication abuse. What’s more, a quarter of adults and adolescents surveyed admitted to binge drinking within the last one-month period. Unsurprisingly, an epidemic that affects such an alarming portion of the population comes with a hefty price tag:
There was a combined economic impact of $440 billion in 2015 from substance abuse. While nearly everyone knows someone suffering from addiction, or are themselves suffering, less than half of those afflicted seek treatment. Reasons for not seeking care vary, but they generally come down to affordability or stigma. They are either convinced they cannot afford the cost of treatment, ashamed to ask for help, or both.
Understanding Addiction Is a Chronic Illness
In an NPR interview about the report’s findings, Dr. Murthy pointed out that the long-held view of addiction as a personality shortcoming – a trait the addict can simply “turn off” or willfully change – is a harmful misconception. “Now we understand that these disorders actually change the circuitry in your brain,” Dr. Murthy said. “They affect your ability to make decisions, and change your reward system and your stress response. That tells us that addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, and we need to treat it with the same urgency and compassion that we do with any other illness.”
Like any disease, addiction can be treated a character flaw
After decades of research on drug and alcohol use, scientists agree that addiction is a chronic, but treatable, brain disease that requires the medical attention of professionals. Through evidence-based behavioral therapies, addicts can find lasting recovery. And recovery quite literally saves lives. Evidence shows that addiction can be managed and recurrence rates reduced in much the same way as other chronic health conditions, like asthma and diabetes. But, like other medical conditions, it takes professional care.
Chronic illness does not mean you can’t recover
There are many pathways to recovery, and our experienced team of addiction specialists can help you determine the most effective approach for you and your substance abuse battle. Whether you’re looking for yourself or for someone you love, let us help you find the care you need. The top two reasons people hesitate to get care are affordability and shame – don’t let theses excuses stop you. We can work with you to find a program that meets your needs, financial or otherwise.
Contact The Watershed now by calling 1-800-861-1768 and let us guide you through your journey to sober living.Tags: 7 Criteria For Substance Dependence, disease of addiction