Health

U.S. Surgeon General Wants Us to Change How We Think About Addiction

November 17th 2016

By:
Almie Rose

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently asked Americans to change their perceptions on addiction being a "moral failing," but, instead, to understand that it's a "chronic disease of the brain that deserves the same compassion that any other chronic illness does, like diabetes or heart disease," USA Today reports.

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20.8 million people

Murthy released a new report Thursday, "Facing Addiction in America" in which he states we "need a cultural shift in how we think about addiction," likening addiction to cancer. He continues:

"For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing. This unfortunate stigma has created an added burden of shame that has made people with substance use disorders less likely to come forward and seek help. It has also made it more challenging to marshal the necessary investments in prevention and treatment. 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." 

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There are 20.8 million people (7.8 percent of the overall population) struggling with some form of substance abuse, but only 2.2 million people received treatment for their addiction, according to the report.

Murthy put this in perspective when he told The Washington Post on Thursday, "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."

[H/T Business Insider]