U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams called for a “cultural shift” in how Americans talk about opioid addiction, saying stigma is one of the leading reasons only one in four people with a problem get the treatment they need.
Dr. Adams said opioids were involved in 48,000 of the 72,000 drug-overdose deaths in the U.S. last year, yet polling suggests barely more than half of Americans consider the epidemic a “major concern.”
In a new “Spotlight” report, the Health and Human Services Department details ways families, doctors, educators and business leaders can open up about addiction or prevent it from taking hold in the first place.
For instance, it urges companies to reduce work-related injuries that could lead to opioid misuse and calls on family members to be “supportive (not judgmental)” in prodding an addicted loved one to get help. It also says family members should carry overdose-reversing naloxone.
Dr. Adams has tried to lead by example by talking about his younger brother, who cycled in and out of prison due to opioid misuse.