In the last year, we have all watched the government take a new shape, for better or worse. The new guard has appointed individuals into positions relevant to the field of addiction medicine and treatment. You might be aware that as of September we have a new Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams.
Those of you who weren’t aware of former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s replacement, we will take a moment to share with you his credentials. The 20th Surgeon General of the United States is an anesthesiologist and a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, according to STAT News. He attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Adams has the kind of resume that you’d expect from someone serving in the position of Surgeon General. However, it turns out that he also has some personal experiences that can help him address the American opioid addiction epidemic. Adams has a younger brother named Phillip, whose substance use and abuse have severely impacted the entire family. Dr. Adam’s brother is currently serving time in prison just down the road from his office; it’s fair to say that he thinks of the plight of addiction quite often.
Family Addiction Might Change the Discussion
The Surgeon General does not make policy, but they do have a platform and voice that calls for deference. He believes that getting law enforcement and addiction medicine experts to work together on this crisis is critical, the article reports. With that in mind, he shared his thoughts at a recent National Academy of Medicine panel discussion about the opioid epidemic. When a judge opined that it was strange for him to share a stage health experts, Dr. Adams shared:
“The No. 1 touch point for people with addiction is not a physician … it isn’t a medical touch point. It is the law enforcement community,” he said. “This room should be half full from the law enforcement community if we really want to tackle this issue.”
The new Surgeon General seems to think a balance can be struck between law enforcement and public health services to find a solution to the American addiction crisis. He realizes that the criminal justice system has not helped his brother Philip break the cycle of addiction, but believes that at times people must be held accountable for their actions.
“We can’t ignore the fact that there are crimes being committed,” said Dr. Adams. “I’m not saying my brother or anyone else should be absolved of all the crimes and the real harm they’ve done to people. I’m saying the way that you prevent that from continuing to occur is by making sure those folks have access to treatment, so that when they do get out, they don’t go down the same pathway.”
Committing petty crimes is resorted to when addicts can’t support their disease any other way. Once in the system, perpetual cycles of recidivism are commonplace; giving more people access to addiction treatment services would make recidivism be less a reality.
If you are one of the millions of Americans actively caught in the grips of addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and lead a productive life in recovery.