In the past, we have highlighted the important work that America’s Surgeon Generals have done to bring awareness to addiction in this country. Jerome Adams, the latest doctor to hold that title, is no different and actually has a very personal connection to the cause. As he revealed in a recent report, his own brother suffered with a severe opioid dependency.
Titled Facing Addiction In America, Adams’ powerful essay confronts many harsh realities about substance abuse in this country. In the first few pages, he openly discusses the pain his younger brother’s issues caused the family and why this mission is so important to him.
“My family and I are among the millions of Americans affected by substance use disorder,” Adams explained in the report. “My younger brother has struggled with this disease, which started with untreated depression leading to opioid pain reliever misuse. Like many with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder conditions, my brother has cycled in and out of incarceration. I tell my family’s story because far too many are facing the same worries for their loved ones. We all ask the same question: How can I contribute to ending the opioid crisis and helping those suffering with addiction?”
He goes on to list many of the hurdles the country is facing when it comes to treatment and recovery. One major call out is the lack of staffing in America’s healthcare industry, as well as a gap in proper training. Prepping people in hospitals (and first responders, for that matter) with lifesaving overdose prevention techniques is crucial, particularly amid this devastating crisis.
Speaking from the heart, Adams went on to emphasize a new way of thinking when it comes to addiction. As he puts it, this is not a character flaw nor a weakness of the spirit. It is, in fact, a chronic disease and should be treated as such. Adams went on to emphasize that family members, friends and law enforcement personnel should be non-judgmental in this matter and properly in trained in the administration to anti-overdose medication naloxone.
“Through partnerships, we can address the overall health inequities and determinants of health that exist where we live, learn, work, and play,” Adams concluded. “Together we can reduce the risks of opioid misuse, opioid use disorder, and related health consequences such as overdose and infectious disease transmission.”