Changing our attitudes toward addiction is crucial if we are to prevent opioid misuse and promote recovery of those who are addicted, according to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams.

In releasing a report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Spotlight on Opioids, Adams called for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the opioid crisis.

"Addiction is a brain disease that touches families across America – even my own," said Dr. Adams. "We need to work together to put an end to stigma."

The Surgeon General is recommending that individuals:

  • Talk about opioid misuse. Have a conversation about preventing drug misuse and overdose.
  • Be safe. Only take opioid medications as prescribed, ensure that medication is stored in a secure place, and dispose of unused medication properly.
  • Understand pain and talk with your healthcare provider. Treatments other than opioids can be effective in managing pain.
  • Understand that addiction is a chronic disease. With the right treatment and supports, people do recover.
  • Be prepared. Get and learn how to use naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing drug.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), representing nearly 3,000 local health departments, said it strongly supported Adams’ approach.

"Local health departments can play a crucial role in raising awareness and educating their communities about opioid addiction, effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment, access to care and resources for those struggling," said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman. "They are also important community partners, working across other sectors within the community, including hospital systems, healthcare delivery, mental health and substance abuse, social services, emergency services, and law enforcement, to address this epidemic."

To learn more about NACCHO's position on the opioid epidemic, click here.


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