APA Welcomes Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction, Pledges to Work to Address Epidemic

ARLINGTON, Va. Nov. 17, 2016 – Today the American Psychiatric Association (APA) praised the release of a new report by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy that draws attention to the current drug and alcohol addiction public health crisis, highlights proven treatments and calls for collective coordinated action.

“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.”

“It is important to have effective policies and programs to help prevent alcohol and drug misuse as well as make addiction care both more acceptable, and more accessible to all people needing treatment,” Oquendo said.

The report, Facing Addiction: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, highlights both the human cost of addiction and the economic costs. Substance use disorders affect more than 20 million people in the United States, almost 8 percent of adults and adolescents, and drug and alcohol addiction take tremendous tolls on individuals, families and communities. Substance misuse and addiction cost society more than $400 billion each year.

As the report emphasizes, addiction to alcohol or drugs is a “chronic but treatable brain disease that requires medical intervention, not moral judgment.” Effective treatments are available and can save lives and restore people’s health and well-being, yet only about 10 percent of people needing addiction treatment receive it. APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., said the APA’s membership plays a pivotal role in addressing this epidemic.

“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,” Levin said.

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose 36,500 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders.

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