U.S. Surgeon General calls for more action on opioid and alcohol abuse

Report on alcohol, drugs, and health released today

A first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health launched on November 17 gives health care providers, policy makers, law enforcement, and others more tools, information, and evidence to address addiction.

The report, developed mainly by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, not only goes into prescription opioid and heroin abuse but also alcohol abuse. According to the report, more than 27 million people in the United States reported using illicit drugs or misused prescription drugs in 2015, and more than 66 million people—nearly one-quarter of the adult and adolescent population—reported binge drinking in a given recent month.

“Our health care system has not given the same level of attention to substance use disorders as it has to other health concerns that affect similar numbers of people. Substance use disorder treatment in the United States remains largely segregated from the rest of health care and serves only a fraction of those in need of treatment,” wrote authors of the report.

In addition, the report found that the estimated annual economic impact is $193 billion for drug abuse and $249 billion for alcohol abuse.

Using the available scientific evidence, the report reviews and synthesizes findings on the neurobiology of substance use, misuse, and addiction; prevention programs and policies; early intervention, treatment, and management for substance use disorders; recovery from substance use disorders; and health care systems and substance use disorders.

The Surgeon General and those within the Department of Health and Human Services are calling the report historic and they hope it will lead to a monumental effort to combat addiction just like a similar report on tobacco use did 50 years ago.

For more on how pharmacists can be more involved with fighting and preventing opioid abuse and overdose, please see CDC’s new brochure: http://apha.us/2gmwN3G.