Surgeon general report: 'Addiction is not a character flaw'

The report details the toll addiction takes and explains how brain science offers hope for recovery


By Carla K. Johnson
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In what may be his last significant act as President Barack Obama's surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy released a report Thursday calling for a major cultural shift in the way Americans view drug and alcohol addiction.

The report, "Facing Addiction in America," details the toll addiction takes on the nation — 78 people die each day from an opioid overdose; 20 million have a substance use disorder — and explains how brain science offers hope for recovery. While its findings have been reported elsewhere, including by other federal agencies, the report seeks to inspire action and sway public opinion in the style of the 1964 surgeon general's landmark report on smoking.

Dr. Vivek Murthy appears on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Dr. Vivek Murthy appears on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

With President-elect Donald Trump taking office, it's uncertain whether access to addiction treatment will improve or deteriorate. Trump and the Republican-led Congress are pledging to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which made addiction treatment an essential health benefit.

In an interview Wednesday, Murthy said he hasn't spoken to Trump but looks forward to working with his administration to save lives with expanded access to treatment.

"We have made progress," Murthy said. "How do we keep that progress going? A key part is making sure people have insurance coverage."

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