U.S. Surgeon General Says Addiction Is A Brain Disease
According to a new report by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, nearly 21 million Americans were affected by drug addiction or alcoholism in 2015 – that is about equal to the number of Americans with diabetes. However, only about 1 in 10 got treatment for their disorder.
Murthy via The Washington Post:
“We would never tolerate a situation where only one in 10 people with cancer or diabetes gets treatment, and yet we do that with substance-abuse disorders.”
The report also states that alcohol misuse contributes to 88,000 deaths in the U.S every year, and that as many as 1 in 10 deaths among working adults are due to alcohol misuse. Additionally, in 2014, there were more than 47,000 drug overdose deaths, which included over 28,000 people who died from some type of prescription painkiller or illegal opioids.
Indeed, in 2015, over 27 million persons report abusing prescription drugs or using illicit drugs. Another 66+ million said they had engaged in binge drinking in the past 30 days.
Murthy says that it’s time to alter our perception of people struggling with addiction, and infers that rather than a moral shortcoming, addiction is a brain disease:
“We also need a cultural shift in how we think about addiction. For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing.”
“We must help everyone see that addiction is not a character flaw — it is a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
According to the new report, addiction “is a chronic brain disease that has the potential for both recurrence and recovery.”
In addition, “substance use disorders.typically develop gradually over time with repeated misuse, leading to changes in brain circuits governing incentive salience” and “a severe substance use disorder is commonly called an addiction.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology