Will the Trump administration address the addiction crisis?
© Getty Images

On Nov. 17 the United States Surgeon General issued a ground-breaking report on the state of the nation regarding drug addiction in our country called: Facing Addiction in America.

The findings range from concerning to downright scary. As a person in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, and someone who has advocated for more awareness regarding these issues, I share the concerns of many as to the direction our country will take under the new administration in addressing this public health crisis.

ADVERTISEMENT

As you a probably aware, the current crisis I am speaking of is prescription opioid and heroin addiction. That is not to diminish other types of addiction (the report points out that alcohol is also a major problem) but with regards to prescription opioids and heroin, we are on a runaway train with no slowdown in sight.

I was fortunate to find recovery before this particular crisis began. For me it was alcohol and cocaine. However, I am intimately familiar with the misuse of prescription opioids. The drive for achieving a feeling of acceptance and being loved lead me to misuse prescription painkillers both legally and illegally. It was pure luck that I never became physically dependent. Many others are not so lucky, many are addicted, many are dead. The time for action is now.

Here are some of the key findings from the Surgeon General’s report:

  1. One in Seven in the United States will face substance addiction.

  2. Seventy-eight people die each day from opioid overdose.

  3. 20.8 million have a substance use disorder. Only 10 percent of those will receive   treatment.

As an advocate for awareness and recovery, one of the reasons I cast my vote for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP struggles with retirement wave Overnight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE was that she had an ambitious and detailed plan for dealing with this crisis both stemming the tide of addiction and getting people treatment so they can hopefully transition to long term recovery. That is now the past. President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE is the future. He has laid out a few broad strokes but many of us are left wondering the specific path he will take on these issues especially with regards to empowering recovery.

Finally, I am well aware of the stigma and stereotypes many reading this have towards addiction. Some will view it as pure choice and something that can easily be stopped by “force of will”. Some will view it as a moral failing. “Those damn junkies and crackheads” I get that my telling you otherwise and laying out the science of physical and psychological dependence may not register against that.

Telling you that genetics plays a role in the area of fifty percent to a person’s likelihood of becoming addicted. Telling you that yes, the first instance, while probably influenced by psychological factors is “a choice” the biological and psychological process of addiction that may take hold after that is not.

I will simply ask a favor, read the report and read it with an open mind. Whether it’s you, someone in your family or circle of friends or work associates, the odds are good that you know someone suffering. If after reading it, you still feel the same, look at it from a pure healthcare cost monetary standpoint. The report also found:

  1. Substance use disorders cost over $420 billion a year in the form of health care costs, lost economic productivity, and cost to the criminal justice system

  1. Every $1 invested in viable treatment options for substance use disorders saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs.

Join me in urging President-elect Trump to also read the report and step up to support the legislation and funding that will be necessary to address this public health crisis. Forget the monetary cost to society in not dealing with it. The cost one day may be someone you love. Recovery takes a village. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire in which he addressed this issue, Trump stated, “If I win, if I get elected president, I’m going to solve that problem”

Trump, you are now President-elect. The Surgeon General has laid out the problem. It will take more than increased border security and filling our jails has already proven a disastrous approach. It will take, empathy, compassion, legislation and funding. Having experienced the heartbreak of addiction in your family, I know you empathize and have compassion. Now it’s time to act.

Brian Cuban is an attorney and author. His first book, Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder,” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from, twenty-seven years of eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).  

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.