WASHINGTON (NBC News) – A newly released government report calls attention to a national public health crisis: Drug and alcohol addiction.
It finds one in seven people will face a substance abuse disorder in life.
“I’m calling our country to action,” Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy says of the report.
The report includes sobering statistics.
Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. have a substance abuse disorder. That’s more than the number of people with cancer.
Drug overdoses are rising steadily, and highly addictive opioid painkillers are used more often than tobacco.
“More and more of my time, and more and more of my consultations are with patients who are on high dose opioids or are who addicted to opioids,” says Dr. David Edwards of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The Surgeon General’s report also finds only one in ten people with an addiction get the help they need.
One goal of the new report is to reduce stigma attached to substance abuse.
“If we afford the same compassion and care to people living with addiction that we do to people living with any other chronic illness, then I believe we will be able to address the addiction crisis in America,” Dr. Murthy says.
The economic impact of drug and alcohol addiction tops $400 billion each year.