On Thursday, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy published a report declaring that addiction is the biggest health problem currently facing the country. The top doctor stated that substance abuse disorders involving alcohol or other drugs takes the lives of more people than all types of cancer combined.
The Surgeon General reported that one in seven people have some kind of substance abuse disorder, but stated that only one in 10 of those people receive treatment. According to Dr. Murthy, young adults are most at risk, UPI reported.
Fatalities related to opioids are rising drastically — in 2014, almost 19,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. were related to prescription pain relievers, and more than 10,000 deaths were related to heroin, the American Society of Addiction Medicine reported. Meanwhile, alcohol-related causes account for nearly 88,000 deaths annually in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health.
"Alcohol and drug addiction take an enormous toll on individuals, families, and communities," Dr. Murthy said in a press release. "Most Americans know someone who has been touched by an alcohol or a drug use disorder. Yet 90 percent of people with a substance use disorder are not getting treatment. That has to change."
The Surgeon General published his findings about substance abuse and related disorders in a dedicated paper called "Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.” This is the doctor’s first report on the subject.
Back in September, a study reported that prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence in the U.S. has cost more than lives — it has racked up an estimated $78.5 billion in related expenses, Medical Daily previously reported.
In May 2015, another study found that opioid-related hospitalizations had increased by 72 percent and health care costs associated with opioid addiction grew to $15 billion from 2002 to 2012.