Thursday, November 17, 2016

U.S. Surgeon General’s Report Offers Next Steps for Tackling Drug, Alcohol Addiction

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A, today released a report that highlights the toll that substance misuse and related disorders are having on Americans and calls for the integration of substance use-related services in health care systems. 

“Substance use disorders affect nearly everyone in America, either directly or indirectly,” Murthy said during a conference call. “We have 20.8 million people in America with a substance use disorder—that’s around the same number of people with diabetes and 1.5 times greater than the number of people [in the U.S.] with all cancers combined. Yet only one in 10 people are getting treatment.”

One reason for this treatment gap, the report suggests, is a lack of screening for substance misuse and substance use disorders in health care settings: “While services for the prevention and treatment of substance misuse and substance use disorders have traditionally been delivered separately from other mental health and general health care services, effective integration of prevention, treatment, and recovery services across health care systems is key to addressing substance misuse and its consequences; it represents the most promising way to improve access to and quality of treatment.” 

The report continues, “Increasing the number of insured Americans and integrating substance use disorder services with mainstream health care has the power to improve outcomes for individuals, reduce overall health care costs for them and their families, reduce health disparities among high-risk groups, and reduce costs for health care systems and communities.”

In addition to highlighting successful prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, the report offers several key recommendations for reducing substance use in the future.  

“We are encouraged by the focus on the nationwide substance use epidemic and the many ways we can collectively work to address it,” said APA President Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D. “The disease of addiction affects people from all backgrounds across our society and we have the knowledge and tools to provide effective treatment.”

APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., added, “APA has worked extensively in collaborative efforts to improve addiction treatment and train psychiatrists and other physicians to use the best evidence-based treatments available.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Obama Proposes Raising Caps on Buprenorphine Prescribing.” 

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