America’s Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy wants society to see addiction as a brain disorder instead of a moral failing. In a new report, “Facing Addiction in America”, he states that people with substance abuse disorders do not receive the support that they need.
The report is the first from a Surgeon General to address substance abuse disorders and the wider range of health problems related to alcohol and drugs.
It calls for, among other things, a cultural change in understanding that addiction is a brain disease and not a character flaw.
“It’s time to change how we view addiction,” Dr Murthy said in releasing the report. “Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”
Dr Murthy urged lawmakers and communities to expand the kinds of treatment that science has shown to be most effective, and to implement parity laws that provide the same access to behavioural health problems as physical health problems, including evidence-based treatment.
The Surgeon General is appointed by the president of the USA and is the main spokesperson for the U.S. government on all public health issues.