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Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health: A Vision for the Future

Report Highlights 

• Report offers public health framework to address alcohol and drug misuse and substance use disorders.

• More than 27 million Americans struggle with substance misuse.

• Prevention programs and policies exist to reduce substance misuse and medication treatment options are available to help people recover. Released in November, the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on alcohol and drug misuse and substance use disorders synthesizes the best evidence on these growing health concerns. Abt Global provided support in the development of the report.  

“The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health” is a review of the most important and reliable scientific findings on substance misuse and substance use disorders in America, and is a collaboration between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of the Surgeon General.

“Substance use disorders have a neurobiological basis,” said Meg Gwaltney, principal associate for U.S. Health at Abt and project director on this report. “They are treatable brain diseases and need to be addressed just like any other chronic condition. The report provides evidence for individuals, families, and communities that prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.”

Drug Abuse, Binge Drinking are Huge Problems

This report is intended to help individuals, families, community members, educators, health care professionals, public health practitioners, advocates, public policymakers, and researchers find effective, sustainable solutions to the problems caused by alcohol and drugs.

More than 27 million Americans – the equivalent of the population of Texas – reported use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription medicines in 2015. Additionally, more than 66 million people, or one-quarter of the U.S. population, reported binge drinking in the past month.

“This is a groundbreaking report that sheds light on substance misuse,” said Gwaltney. “More Americans struggle with substance use disorders than deal with cancer. Through this report, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has raised critical awareness of the issue of alcohol and drug misuse and provided concrete recommendations for ways to reduce the burden of substance misuse on individuals, families, and communities, including how primary care practices and health care systems can be involved.”

Addressing Misuse of Alcohol and Drugs with a Public Health Approach

Rigorous research has illuminated the serious and pervasive problem of substance misuse. The seven-chapter report reviews these findings and discusses the evidence-based programs and policies that effectively prevent and treat substance misuse and substance use disorders and have the greatest potential for public health impact. It also discusses the ongoing changes in the delivery of care for substance use disorders and how integrating substance use services with mainstream health care can result in better outcomes for individuals with substance misuse problems.

The report uses a public health framework and discusses the collaboration and commitment that is required across the private and public sectors in order to make progress in reducing substance misuse and related harms. It calls on everyone to work together in addressing substance misuse and substance use disorders as a public health issue.

Download the report and access supplemental resources

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