Highlights of First Ever Surgeon General's Report on Addiction

“I’m calling for a cultural change in how we think about addiction. For far too long people have thought about addiction as a character flaw or a moral failing. Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain and it’s one that we have to treat the way we would any other chronic illness: with skill, with compassion and with urgency.” Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy

His words are music to our ears! This week was an exciting one for Workit's team and for all advocates and pioneers of more humane, helpful approaches to addiction. The Surgeon General released its first EVER comprehensive report focused on addiction: Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Drugs, Alcohol, & Health.

We're thrilled to see addiction spotlighted on a national level as a public health concern, and to be at the forefront of solutions! The report is very much in sync with Workit's mission, values and programs.

A few highlights:

  • Addiction is extremely common in the U.S. yet massively undertreated. Not breaking news here at Workit, but the report does an excellent job of hammering the point home with a gold mine of startling statistics from vetted sources.
  • It is now well-established by evidence that substance addictions are chronic, but treatable, brain disorders requiring medical intervention—NOT moral failings or character flaws. Boom! Shout it from the rooftops: Addiction is a brain disorder requiring medical intervention. NOT moralistic dogma. In fact, Murthy sagely flips the tables and tells us that the only moral test here is how America responds to the addiction epidemic! Time to stamp out the myth of addiction as a morality issue; it keeps people from seeking care they desperately need.
  • Effective preventative interventions and policies exist for both high-risk populations and communities in general; if correctly implemented they can play a huge role in reducing addiction rates. The report calls for dramatic expansion of prevention, screening, and early intervention programs. At Workit, we continue to develop our offerings in the preventative space; get in touch with us for the latest.
  • Similar to other chronic diseases, addiction needs to be identified, treated, and then continually managed with behavioral interventions and medication. Recovery is an achievable goal. In fact, some research suggests that with proper comprehensive care, addiction recurrence rates are no higher than rates for other chronic illnesses like asthma or diabetes.
  • Substance use disorder services need to be integrated into general healthcare, rather than provided through distinct and separate systems as was the case in the past. Coordinated and responsive care for prevention, treatment, and recovery is crucial.
  • There's no one-size-fits all path to recovery. What works for people will vary according to a myriad of factors such as demographics and psychological/behavioral needs. Even "recovery" means different things to different people, although the report suggests a common theme: people tend to consider "recovery" to mean not just stopping addictive behavior, but moving beyond it to a greater state of wellness...A.K.A. thriving!

At Workit, we have been living and breathing these realities forever (and working to improve them since our company's founding in 2014). Thus, it's incredibly heartening to have the Surgeon General championing the movement (added bonus: now I can smugly declare "surgeon general says" in future conversations with addiction shamers and skeptics. Has a nice ring to it!).

The report is also wonderfully inclusive in who it calls to action, and the Facing Addiction site is brimming with ways for you to join in.

In that spirit, we just released an initiative to facilitate Workit's ability to advocate for better care on people's behalf: Bring Workit It To Me. With a simple anonymous form, people can indicate their need for Workit in their workplace, and we take it from there!

Onward, for the lost and the living!