In Support of the Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction
The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health was released today and shines a much needed spotlight on substance misuse and addiction and provides a long overdue call for significant changes to how we address this top public health problem. We applaud the Surgeon General for fully embracing addiction as a medical condition, a position Center on Addiction has long held and which is reflected in our mission to connect science with policy and practice to better the lives of all people impacted by substance use and addiction.
Addiction treatment historically has been separated from mainstream medical practice and has not reflected cutting-edge research, as we highlighted in our report, Addiction Medicine: Closing the Gap Between Science and Practice. Center on Addiction is very gratified to see the Surgeon General elevate these conclusions and the significant work of our nation’s scientists and offer broad, evidence-based strategies for closing this costly and devastating gap. Like cancer and heart disease, the disease of addiction requires and deserves the prevention and treatment approaches that have been proven to work.
The Surgeon General’s recommendations are based on sound research and take a comprehensive approach to addiction. The report also acknowledges the need to make science-based treatment accessible, to make stronger investments in prevention and to increase efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding this disease. A continued failure to heed this call will cause untold human suffering and is a wasteful misuse of taxpayer dollars.
This pivotal report lays a strong blueprint for the field of addiction to follow. But to fundamentally shift our nation’s perception of and approach to addiction and achieve sustained results – much like the Surgeon General’s 1964 landmark report did for smoking – inter-organization collaboration, funding, and support for those in recovery are imperative. Organizations like ours are joining together in support of the report and the work that must follow to make its recommendations a reality for the good of all families in this country.
Substance use and addiction permeate our society. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic of unprecedented proportion. The number of young people at risk for nicotine addiction from the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise. Heavy drinking is commonplace on college campuses. And recreational marijuana use increasingly is becoming the norm in our society. The Surgeon General’s report shows us what needs to be done to address this public health crisis and how to do it. Now we need to act.
Samuel A. Ball, PhD
Dr. Ball is President and CEO of Center on Addiction