Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]

Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2016 Nov.


This Surgeon General's Report has been created because of the important health and social problems associated with alcohol and drug misuse in America. As described in this Report, a comprehensive approach is needed to address substance use problems in the United States that includes several key components:

  1. Enhanced public education to improve awareness about substance use problems and demand for more effective policies and practices to address them;

  2. Widespread implementation of evidence-based prevention policies and programs to prevent substance misuse and related harms;

  3. Improved access to evidence-based treatment services, integrated with mainstream health care, for those at risk for or affected by substance use disorders;

  4. Recovery support services (RSS) to assist individuals in maintaining remission and preventing relapse; and

  5. Research-informed public policies and financing strategies to ensure that substance misuse and use disorder services are accessible, compassionate, efficient, and sustainable.

Recognizing these needs, the Report explains the neurobiological basis for substance use disorders and provides the biological, psychological, and social frameworks for improving diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol and drug misuse. It also describes evidence-based prevention strategies, such as public policies that can reduce substance misuse problems (e.g., driving under the influence [DUI]); effective treatment strategies, including medications and behavioral therapies for treating substance use disorders; and RSS for people who have completed treatment. Additionally, the Report describes recent changes in health care financing, including changes in health insurance regulations, which support the integration of clinical prevention and treatment services for substance use disorders into mainstream health care practice, and defines a research agenda for addressing alcohol and drug misuse as medical conditions.

Thus, this first Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health is not issued simply because of the prevalence of substance misuse or even the related devastating harms and costs, but also to help inform policymakers, health care professionals, and the general public about effective, practical, and sustainable strategies to address these problems. These strategies have the potential to substantially reduce substance misuse and related problems; promote early intervention for substance misuse and substance use disorders; and improve the availability of high-quality treatment and RSS for persons with substance use disorders.

Publication types

  • Review