The Surgeon General’s Report: “Treatment Gap” for Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Conditions

Person with black jacket holding a black pistol against a graffiti coverred background The Office of the Surgeon General released a report titled “Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health” in November 2016.

This report is a study on public health challenges associated with alcohol and drug misuse, such as increased healthcare costs and adverse effects on community safety brought about by drug- and alcohol-related crime.

According to the report, “most Americans know someone with a substance use disorder, and many know someone who has lost or nearly lost a family member as a consequence of substance misuse.” However, because of the stigma surrounding mental health and substance use disorders, many people who are suffering go untreated. As a result, those who commit drug- or alcohol-related crimes are put through the criminal justice system, rather than the health care system.

“This Report is a call to all Americans to change the way we address substance misuse and substance use disorders in our society. Past approaches to these issues have been rooted in misconceptions and prejudice and have resulted in a lack of preventive care; diagnoses that are made too late or never; and poor access to treatment and recovery support services, which exacerbated health disparities and deprived countless individuals, families, and communities of healthy outcomes and quality of life. Now is the time to acknowledge that these disorders must be addressed with compassion and as preventable and treatable medical conditions. By adopting an evidence-based public health approach, we have the opportunity as a nation to take effective steps to prevent and treat substance use-related issues.”

Past Surgeon General’s Reports, as well as other reports and publications from the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service, may be found online. If you would like to read previous publications, please click here.