U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued the report “Facing Addiction in America” https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov, the first comprehensive study compiled by the federal government examining the toll of substance misuse in America.
In the report, the Surgeon General reports that alcohol, drug misuse, and related disorders are taking an enormous toll on individuals, families, and society. In the last year alone, over 27 million people in the U.S reported current use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs.
The report’s findings discuss how health IT by supporting greater communication and collaboration among providers is able to provide better integrated and specialty substance use disorder treatment programs while at the same time protecting patient privacy.
The report also mentions how health IT has the potential to expand access to care, extend the workforce, improve care coordination, reach individuals who are resistant to go to a traditional treatment center, and help to provide outcomes and recovery monitoring.
The report’s findings suggest that the integration of substance use related services into mainstream healthcare systems are needed. Integration can also help address health disparities, reduce healthcare costs for both patients and family members, and improve general health outcomes.
On the legislative side, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) www.whitehouse.senate.gov authored addiction and recovery legislation titled “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016” that was signed into law this year.
The legislation includes several sections on grants to provide funds for emergencies. For example, HHS will be able to award grants to expand access to drugs or devices approved by the FDA for emergency treatment of opioid overdose. Grant recipients may use funds to purchase treatments, or establish a program for prescribing treatments, or use the funding to train healthcare providers and pharmacists.
The Senator said, “For too long, we have tended to think of substance abuse as a moral failing rather than as a dangerous disease. Thankfully, that is starting to change. The Surgeon General’s report and other new research shows how substance disorders work and how best to treat them.” He adds, “Congress passed my comprehensive addiction and recovery legislation to fundamentally change the federal government’s approach to solving this problem.”