Dr. Jay Butler, chief medical officer of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, called the state

HHS Commissions Addiction Report

The report will examine the health effects of drug and alcohol misuse from the perspectives of prevention, treatment, recovery, neurobiology, and delivery of care.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of the Surgeon General recently announced they have commissioned the first-ever Surgeon General's Report on the state of the science on substance use, addiction, and health. This report, announced at the end of 2015, will examine the health effects of alcohol and drug misuse -- including both illicit and prescription medications.

The HHS Federal Register notice reiterates that substance misuse and addiction are a substantial public health challenge. It cites the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which showed that an estimated 27 million Americans age 12 or older were current illicit drug users and 16.3 million were heavy drinkers. About 21.5 million people age 12 and older reported having had a substance use disorder in the past year -- and among them, 14.4 million had dependence or abuse of alcohol but not illicit drugs, 4.5 million had dependence or abuse of illicit drugs but not alcohol, and 2.6 million had dependence or abuse of both.

HHS noted that the Affordable Care Act and new mental health parity protections are expanding mental health and substance abuse treatment benefits to 60 million Americans, yet too many Americans are not accessing treatment services. "Based on the 2014 NSDUH data, although 21.5 million people aged 12 or older met the DSM–IV criteria for alcohol or illicit drug dependence or abuse, only an estimated 2.3 million received substance use treatment in the past year," it reported.

The report will reference data sources such as NSDUH, the Monitoring the Future Survey, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, and the National Comorbidity Survey in order to:

  • provide a comprehensive review of the research literature on substance use, addiction, and health and summarize the science on substance misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery
  • outline its potential future direction
  • educate, encourage, and call upon all Americans to take action

A 2015 National Safety Council survey found that 45 percent of American adults who are taking opioid prescription painkillers do not realize they are taking an opioid, and an earlier NSC survey indicated 70 percent of adults taking such painkillers do not realize that sharing them is a felony crime in most states.

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