We are sad to see Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA leave office as the U.S. Surgeon General. And we’re not alone. Many tweeted their disappointment when he was asked to step down last week.
He advocated for addiction treatment and treating gun violence as a public health issue.
I’m very sad to see him go. https://t.co/UoPm5dElJq
— Omar S. Manejwala MD (@drmanejwala) April 22, 2017
They also expressed gratitude for his work over the last two years
Grateful for the crucial work @Vivek_Murthy did as Surgeon General in advocating a cultural change in how we treat addiction & mental health
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) April 23, 2017
For those of us who care about substance use disorders, Murthy was our guy. From his powerful speech at the Unite to Face Addiction rally in Washington D.C. to his landmark report on substance use and health, Murthy was crystal clear about his commitment to addressing substance use and addiction as part of whole health.
Fortunately, no matter where Murthy goes to work in the morning, he’s left us with a significant document to learn from and bring to life, the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.
Here at IRETA, we took particular interest in Chapter 6, “Health Care Systems and Substance Use Disorders.” The chapter described a history of separation between addiction treatment and mainstream healthcare, and not without reason. As the Report points out, despite a growing need for addiction treatment in the 1960s and 70s, hospitals and primary care offices were not particularly eager to treat this patient population. As a result, the addiction treatment system grew up on its own, geographically, financially, culturally, and organizationally separate from mainstream health care.
Whatever the purpose of separate systems was 40 years ago, there is ample evidence that separation is not working now. People are dying, healthcare costs are rising, stigma persists, and care is hard to access. To learn more about the historical separation between these two systems—and ways to better integrate them now—check out the infographic below. We encourage you share on social media. Let’s make the most of Murthy’s hard work on substance use, addiction, and health.