Facts on Addiction:
According to "Facing Addiction in America:
The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health"
by U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy
Most Americans know someone with a substance use disorder, and many know someone who has lost or nearly lost a family member as a consequence of substance misuse. Yet, at the same time, few other medical conditions are surrounded by as much shame and misunderstanding as substance use disorders. Historically, our society has treated addiction and misuse of alcohol and drugs as symptoms of moral weakness or as a willful rejection of societal norms, and these problems have been addressed primarily through the criminal justice system.
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- An American dies every 19 minutes from an opioid or heroin overdose
- The economic impact of drug and alcohol misuse and addiction amounts to $442 billion each year — topping diabetes at $245 billion
- One in seven Americans will face substance addictions
- Only 10% of those addicted receive treatment
- “(Addiction) isn't evidence of a character flaw or a moral failing,” Murthy said. “It’s a chronic disease of the brain that deserves the same compassion that any other chronic illness does, like diabetes or heart disease.”
- Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with substance addictions. That’s more than the number of people who have ALL forms of cancers - combined!
- For those seeking treatment, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Murthy said, has helped 20 million to receive health insurance. The law, along with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, increased access to addiction treatment services.
- People who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become addicted later in life than those who start at 20 or later.
- Policymakers must put resources into prevention and treatment programs, too, Murthy said.
- The report stresses that successful treatment of addiction requires more than a stint with a treatment program. Professional counseling and supportive relationships both play key parts.
- “I’ve just understood that addiction really touches everyone’s life,” the surgeon general said. “It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate, and it’s one that’s taking an extraordinary toll on our communities across the country.”
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