Surgeon General Mentions Brother’s Opioid Addiction In New Report

By Kelly Burch 10/05/18

"I tell my family’s story because far too many are facing the same worries for their loved ones," the Surgeon General wrote in the report.

Image: 
Surgeon General Jerome Adams
Surgeon General Jerome Adams Photo via YouTube

The U.S. Surgeon General has released an updated report on the opioid crisis—to call for Americans to talk about opioid abuse, understand addiction as a disease and be prepared to use naloxone if needed. 

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids was released on September 20 and updates the previous Surgeon General’s report on addiction. 

In the report, Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams opened up about his own family’s experience with opioid addiction. 

“My family and I are among the millions of Americans affected by substance use disorder,” Adams wrote in the report. “My younger brother has struggled with this disease, which started with untreated depression leading to opioid pain reliever misuse. Like many with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder conditions, my brother has cycled in and out of incarceration. I tell my family’s story because far too many are facing the same worries for their loved ones. We all ask the same question: How can I contribute to ending the opioid crisis and helping those suffering with addiction?” 

The updated report highlights the fact that available addiction treatment often lags behind what science says are best practices. 

“The existing healthcare workforce is understaffed, often lacks the necessary training, and has been slow to implement Medicated-Assisted Treatment, as well as prevention, early identification, and other evidenced-based recommendations,” the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release

Partially because of this, only 1 in 4 people with opioid use disorder receive specialized treatment. In order to help more people get sober, law enforcement, faith communities and healthcare providers need to come together to streamline access to treatment. 

“Now is the time to work together and apply what we know to end the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use (under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). “Medication-assisted treatment combined with psychosocial therapies and community-based recovery supports is the gold standard for treating opioid addiction.”

The report concludes with actionable steps that various people can take to reduce the harm from opioid addiction. Family members should be non-judgmental and trained in using naloxone, the report says.

Healthcare providers should treat addiction with the same care that they dedicate to other chronic diseases. Communities should raise awareness by talking about substance abuse as a public health concern. 

“Through partnerships, we can address the overall health inequities and determinants of health that exist where we live, learn, work, and play,” Adams wrote. “Together we can reduce the risks of opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and related health consequences such as overdose and infectious disease transmission.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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