Our nation is, without a doubt, in the midst of an addiction epidemic.
Nearly 21 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol, making substance abuse as common as diabetes, and more prevalent than cancer. Drug overdoses killed more people in 2013 than car accidents and guns, and an alarming 1 in 7 people in the U.S. are now expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
So how do we turn the tide against this crisis?
It starts with getting rid of people’s long-held misconceptions. For many, that means removing the shame synonymous with substance abuse.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, who today released the first-ever Surgeon General report on alcohol, drugs, and health, sums up the challenge this way: “We need to change the way we see addiction – not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that we should approach with the same determination as we do diabetes, hearth disease, and cancer.”
This issue has touched the lives of tens of millions of Americans across the country. It’s the impetus behind MTV’s powerful documentary on opioid addiction, Prescription For Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis.
And it’s why Viacom announced yesterday the launch of “LISTEN” an awareness campaign in partnership with non-profit Facing Addiction to break down the stigma of addiction, promote resources to help those struggling with substance use, and encourage people to approach America’s addiction crisis with empathy, not condemnation. As informed citizens, actively listening to others impacted by this disease is the first step toward progress.
To coincide with the Surgeon General’s report, on Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. ET, a large majority of Viacom’s networks will air Listen: Facing Addiction in America, a Spike-produced commercial-free television special co-hosted by media personality Dr. Drew and MTV News correspondent Anna Marie Cox.
The program will feature live discussion, guest appearances and performances from a diverse group of celebrities who have been directly affected by addiction, including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, award-winning R&B artist Mario, Detroit veteran emcee Royce Da 5’9” and comedian Gary Owen, among others.
A PSA produced by Viacom Velocity in partnership with the Ad Council will run across our networks during the special. The ad spreads a message of hope, that recovery is achievable with compassion and support, and directs viewers to the campaign’s website to find out how to get involved.
You can learn more about the campaign at www.heretolisten.com.