America’s Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, M.D., recently issued a watershed report, “Facing Addiction In America” on the subjects of alcohol, drugs and health. Among the report’s many findings: of the tens of millions who suffer from substance use disorders and additions, only 10 percent are being treated.

Dr. Murthy connects behavioral health disorders to a much wider range of health problems, and strongly argues for a cultural change in understanding that addiction is a brain disease and not a lifestyle choice.

Despite the report’s focus on an advocacy agenda with five major action items, Murthy has been criticized by those who wanted his report to be more weighted toward opioid abuse. It is worth noting that Congress denied President Obama’s recent request for $1 billion to fight the epidemic of opioid abuse, and instead authorized $181 million.

When 90% of those with substance-use disorders do not get treatment, the problem is obviously much greater than any of its component parts—and the political system seems to be in near-complete denial about the extent of these problems or the costs of the cures.

As a clinical social worker, how have you worked with clients facing such problems? Are there affordable programs that work, and that others should know about? Let us hear from you!

Picture via The Hospitalist.

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