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.