Public health officials and treatment specialists say “Facing Addiction in America” could change the public’s perception that drug abuse is a moral failing rather than a disease.
Malory Shaughnessy, executive director of the Maine Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, said the surgeon general’s report is a good step, but she doesn’t know what the Trump administration will do with it. “For all this talk about building a wall and keeping the heroin out, the problem just isn’t that simple,” she said.
Shawn Yardley, CEO of Community Concepts, a Lewiston-based social services agency that works with individuals battling substance abuse disorder, agreed that the report should help change the conversation.
“We need to get people away from this idea that people choose to be addicts. They don’t,” he said. “Just like people don’t choose to have heart disease or diabetes, even though they might have made lifestyle choices that contributed to those diseases.”
Malory Shaughnessy, said that if nothing else, the report shows the public how pervasive the problem is.
“I think not only does it solidly document the extent of the issue, but it explains the science behind it, too,” she said.
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