"Alcohol and drug addiction take an enormous toll on individuals, families, and communities", said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Only 10% of those now addicted receive treatment, the study said.
Dr. Vivek Murthy released the premier Surgeon General Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health Thursday, titled, "Facing Addiction in America".
The report is similar to previous attempts of Surgeon General to combat smoking or the spread of HIV; the paper is used as a means to create awareness among the vulnerable people and those close to them, who should contact specialized help.
The report comes amid a broader government effort to address addiction, in particular opioid painkiller abuse. More people live with substance abuse disorders - roughly 20 million Americans - than people with cancer, the report says.
One goal of the new report is to reduce stigma attached to substance abuse.
Last year, Murthy had said that the country should treat addiction as a chronic disease than seeing it as a moral failing.
And, fighting addiction saves money, according to the report. That same year, more than 66 million people - almost a quarter of the USA adult and adolescent population - reported binge drinking in the past month.
The surgeon general says only one in 10 substance abusers is receiving treatment, and that's a fact that has to change.
Rosenthal pointed out that the Affordable Care Act required insurance plans include coverage for substance use disorders but said more still needed to be done to get addicts into treatment programs. We underestimated how exposure to addictive substances can lead to full blown addiction. "I'm calling for a culture change in how we think about addiction", he told The Washington Post.
But it's going to take much more, he noted. And part of the reason people don't get help is because they're ashamed of their disease, he says. It seems the USA sat up and took notice.
President-elect Trump talked a lot about substance abuse-particularly opioid addiction-on the campaign trail.
According to the report, more than 500,000 Americans have died since 2000 as a result of drug overuse. There are more people with substance abuse disorders than people with cancer.
And of course, policy makers must put resources into prevention and treatment programs, too, Murthy said.
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