The US Surgeon General's report finds alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders to be one of America's most pressing public health concerns. Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders. A nearly a quarter of the adult and adolescent population report binge drinking. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, marks the first time a U.S. Surgeon General has dedicated a report to substance misuse and related disorders. It reviews what we know about substance misuse and how you can use that knowledge to address substance misuse and related consequences.
It underlines how despite the social and economic costs, this is also a time of great opportunity. Ongoing advances in clinical, research, and information technologies are creating new opportunities for increased access to effective prevention and treatment services. On prevention, the report concludes it can be effective and cost-effective, explaining how well-supported scientific evidence exists for robust predictors (risk and protective factors) of substance use and misuse from birth through adulthood. These predictors show much consistency across gender, race and ethnicity, and income. Well-supported scientific evidence demonstrates that a variety of prevention programs and alcohol policies that address these predictors prevent substance initiation, harmful use, and substance use-related problems, and many have been found to be cost-effective. These programs and policies are effective at different stages of the lifespan, from infancy to adulthood, suggesting that it is never too early and never too late to prevent substance misuse and related problems. Furthermore, the report affirms that policies designed to reduce alcohol availability and increase the costs of alcohol have immediate, positive benefits in reducing drinking and binge drinking, as well as the resulting harms from alcohol misuse, such as motor vehicle crashes and fatalities.
The report identifies substance use disorders as a public health problem that requires a public health solution. It recommends taking action by eradicating negative attitudes and changing the way people think about substance use disorders; supporting prevention, recognizing substance misuse and intervening early; and expanding access to treatment. It offers not only encouragement on the possibilities to effectively address substance use, and attention on the importance of addressing substance use within a health centered drug control system, but can also serve as a useful reference and advocacy tool for all prevention stakeholders.
For the full report and executive summary, visit http://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/.