Surgeon general focuses on addiction, calls for compassion

Only 10 percent of those with a substance use disorder receive treatment.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The U.S. Surgeon General wants to change the way Americans view addiction.

In a 400-page report released Thursday, Dr. Vivek Murthy called addiction a national public health crisis, not a character flaw.

In the report, Murthy is asking Americans to feel the same way.

According to the report, 78 people die each day from opioid overdoses, and another 20.8 million have a substance use disorder. Only 10 percent receive treatment.

This is the first time a surgeon general’s report has focused on drug and alcohol addiction.

“If we afford the same compassion and care to people living with addiction that we do to people living with any other chronic illness, then I believe we will be able to address the addiction crisis in America,” Murthy said.

Massachusetts, like much of the country, is fighting the opioid epidemic. State health officials said there were 1,005 confirmed cases of opioid overdose deaths during the first nine months of the year.