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U.S. surgeon general issues first report on addiction

November 17, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — More than 20 million people have substance use disorders, but only 1 in 10 ever receive specialty treatment, according to a new report from the U.S. surgeon general on addiction released Nov. 17.

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health is the first report from that agency to address substance addiction.

“We have the opportunity to transform lives and strengthen communities by addressing our country’s addiction crisis,” said U.S. Surgeon Gen. Vivek Murthy, M.D., in a news release. “There could not be a more important time for us to act.”

The report, which has drawn comparisons to the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, characterized alcohol and drug misuse as “major public health challenges” and urged health care professionals to address substance use-related health issues with “the same sensitivity and care” as any other chronic illness.

“All health care professionals can play a role in addressing substance misuse and substance use disorders through prevention strategies and health care services,” the report said.

The report also called for all health professions to support setting workforce guidelines; advocating for curriculum changes in medical, nursing, dental, and other professional schools; and promoting continuing medical education training.

Since 2011, the ADA has actively worked to raise professional awareness of opioids abuse and mobilize dentists to take action. These endeavors include advocating with policymakers, hosting webinars and participating in national campaigns, including the surgeon general’s own Turn the Tide campaign as well as the National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative and the Medicine Abuse Project. In July, the Association published an open letter in ADA News addressing dentistry's role in preventing prescription opioid abuse. In October, the ADA House of Delegates passed 64H-2016, an ADA Statement on the Use of Opioids in the Treatment of Dental Pain that includes a recommendation for dentists to “follow and continually review Centers for Disease Control and State  Licensing Boards recommendations for safe opioid prescribing.”

Read the entire report here.

For more information about the Association and opioids, including upcoming webinars and subscriber tips, visit