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U.S. Surgeon General: 'Addiction Is A Public Health Crisis'11:04
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A new report by surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy calls for a major cultural shift in the way Americans view drug and alcohol addiction. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
A new report by surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy calls for a major cultural shift in the way Americans view drug and alcohol addiction. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
This article is more than 2 years old.

With America's opioid addiction crisis continuing to grow, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has officially declared the crisis a public health crisis.

"For far too long, people in America have struggled and suffered in the shadows without being able to come forward and ask for help," Murthy told us. In a new report, his office details new ways of considering and treating our addiction crisis beyond traditional strategies from the past.

"The negative attitudes and bias that surround addiction are still persistent," Murthy said. "There are still far too many people who look at addiction as evidence of a character flaw or a moral failing...Addiction is in fact a chronic disease of the brain."

Thanks in part to that ongoing stigma surrounding public disclosure of addiction, Murthy said, treatment methods and practice remain out of use far too often.

"Only one in ten people with substance use disorders are actually getting treatment," Murthy said. "Imagine if only one in ten people with cancer were getting treatment, or one in ten people with diabetes."

Murthy's report urges families to start conversations around opioid addiction with their loved ones, and work with impacted communities to move away from the stigma and toward a more directed form of treatment.

"There's a myth in this country that you only need a couple weeks of treatment and then you're cured for any type of addiction," Murthy said. "That is not true."

You can link to the report, Facing Addiction in America, here.

This segment aired on November 21, 2016.

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