It’s worryingly true to say that the USA has a huge drugs and addiction problem, but will it get resolved anytime soon?
Next week, Vice reports that the US Surgeon General has a lengthy report to unveil on America’s drug use and how to deal with the growing crisis.
Vivek Murphy will be the first to set out his guidelines on how to tackle the problem, in a 428-page-report aptly named Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health.
The report contains some disturbing information, including the fact that 20 million Americans have drug disorders, but in a cruel twist, only 10 per cent of these receive specialist help.
The biggest concern is that it notes that drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental deaths in the continent, with prescription painkillers and heroin killing 74 Americans every day.
That is a huge and deeply unsettling statistic.
President-elect Trump has said, ‘we have to solve this crisis,’ but exactly how remains a mystery.
He has also promised the nation to ‘stop the flow of illegal drugs into the country,’ by cracking down on immigration as well as increasing the minimum sentence for drug offenders.
America has been going down this road for years to little avail, but the biggest surprise is that it is the polar opposite of the tactics the surgeon advises.
He said: “We need to invest more in expanding the scientific evidence base for prevention, treatment, and recovery.
“We must help everyone see that addiction is not a character flaw — it is a chronic illness that we must approach with the same skill and compassion with which we approach heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
In his report, the surgeon brings into question abstinence-only approaches or ‘cold turkey,’ as it is better known, as well as confrontational methods which could damage self-esteem.
He argues that the United States’ education systems need to get better at preventing drug abuse, deeming them as currently showing ‘little or no evidence of effectiveness.’
Murthy claims that the most effective, and in turn cost-effective, way to deal with this mountainous problem, is to provide treatment which combines both mental and behavioural services.
Trump has already declared that he is revoking his repeal against Obamacare.
He stated: “I would also expand incentives for states and local governments to use drug courts and mandated treatment. These can be a cost effective, appropriate, and humane response to addiction.”
These sound like positive responses so far, but time will tell what the outcome will be…