Landmark report calls substance abuse a “chronic disorder”

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The U.S. Surgeon General is calling for a cultural shift in how we treat addiction. For the first time, addiction is being labeled as a “chronic illness,” and the growing opioid epidemic is of particular concern. This is the first report from the united states attorney general ever to focus on alcohol and drugs… It’s being compared to other groundbreaking reports like the one fifty years ago that first laid out the dangers associated with cigarettes

It’s a landmark report, that those fighting in the trenches for years said only confirms what they’ve known all along.

“Addiction is a disease of the brain,” said J. Craig Allen, M.D., medical director at Rushford in Meriden. “It’s a chronic disease and should be treated like other chronic diseases.”

The Surgeon General’s report said that one in seven Americans will suffer with a substance abuse issue. Rushford specializes in treating those with substance abuse disorders in the Meriden-Wallingford area. Allen said Connecticut’s overdose death rate is higher than the national average.

“Numbers of overdose deaths from substances in the state of Connecticut has continued to rise and projections from numbers available through June of this year is that those numbers will go higher than last year, despite the attention and energy put into this,” Allen said.

New Haven County’s two largest cities have some of the highest death totals in the state. From 2012 to 2015, 151 people have died in New Haven and 157 died from accidental drug overdose in Waterbury. Keys to fighting back — and saving lives — laid out in the report include prevention, identifying a problem, effective screening tools, and intervention.

If you are looking for help treating an addiction or would like more information, click here for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Click here for the full report from the Surgeon General.

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