Top Surgeon States “Addiction is a Brain Disorder”

Top Surgeon States "Addiction is a Brain Disorder"In a recently published news release, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called for a culture shift in how Americans to think about addiction. With issues of substance abuse and rates of addiction growing at an alarming rate, Murthy made the case that the public health crisis of addiction is not simply a choice by moral failure, but rather it is a brain disorder.

The role of the US Surgeon General is the leading spokesperson on matters of public health. Even in the last four years of Murthy’s term, America has seen a dramatic uptick in addictions, especially those that are prescription-drug related. According to the CDC, 2014 marked the highest number of drug overdose-induced deaths on record, with much of this derail concentrated in the middle regions of America. Sixty percent of these overdoses involved an opioid or painkiller.

Activist groups have long supported this shift, but stigma toward the notion that substance abuse disorders are not by choice still reigns heavy. The more sympathetic attitude toward addiction is often greeted with public shaming, disencouraging those in need to get the help they desperately need. According to the public health report, only a small fraction of addicts every seek therapy because society has denied for such inviting and conducive environment.

Murthy hopes that dispelling some of the stigma around addiction will lead to better treatment. He told the Washington Post, “Unless we eradicate the negative [stereotypes] . . . we won’t create an environment where people feel comfortable coming forward and asking for help.”

The overall outlook, however, is bright. Decades of scientific research and technological advances on how substance use affects brain chemistry and our capacity for self-control have provided sound research as the basis for the cultural shift. Also, vast strides public and private investments in research, development, and evaluation of programs for the prevention and treatment of substance misuse, in addition to support recovery, have been made.

We have a social obligation to protect children, young people and adults from the destructiveness of substance misuse, and it is reassuring to know that the Department of Public Health still deems substance misuse and addiction as solvable problems.

Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

If you suspect that your loved one is suffering from addiction, then take our free 3 minute assessment.