By Lenox, K. Executive Editor-In-Chief
United States Surgeon General Calls on Doctors and other Medical Professionals to engage with patients more!
On November 28th , the U.S. Surgeon General and former Harvard Medical School instructor Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, who is closing in on his second year as surgeon general, discussed the problems created by the current substance abuse epidemic in the United States and across College campuses, in a press release from the white house.
“There are more people with substance abuse disorders than people with cancer. Substance abuse disorders cost the U.S. more than $420 billion a year, and stimulants are of particular concern among college students due to rising rates of misuse,” Murthy said.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prescription drug misuse among college students is at all-time high. College students sometimes use prescription drugs in an effort to improve academic performance, induce sleep, reduce pain, increase energy to socialize at parties, or self-medicate for anxiety or depression.
In a 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the FDA and Columbia University research, students are able to get a false positive diagnosis for things such as ADHD, anxiety and depression; many of these students mix prescription drugs with alcohol or other drugs, which makes them even more dangerous.
According to the collaborated research and survey, the peak time for abusing drugs on college campuses is near the end of semester, and during finals–many students take stimulants in an attempt to increase their attention span and productivity. The same report revealed that about 1 in 5 college students reported that they had engaged in at least one episode of binge drinking within a month, with many students also reporting driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Dr. Elizabeth Garcia, a counseling psychologist said, “Students taking these medications non-prescribed often get in the mindset that they need them to succeed.”
“There are evidence based school programs that are oriented to teach students how to manage stress in a healthy way, because stress is one of the reasons people turn to substances like alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription painkillers. The programs also teach them about substances of misuse, and teach them how to refuse tobacco and alcohol and other illicit substances when they’re offered” Murthy said. “The problem that we have right now is that we’re not implementing many of these evidence-based interventions” Murthy continued.
Murthy has called for medical professionals to be more engaged in healthcare policy-making decisions. In August 2016, Murthy wrote a letter to American physicians asking for their help in combatting the opioid crisis, the first time the Surgeon General’s office had issued such a letter.
Murthy said he sent the letter because he believes that clinicians must not only prescribe medication but also educate people about health and medicine in ways the government cannot. “I also believe that the scale of the crisis warranted it,” Murthy said. “It’s no longer enough for us to sit in our hospitals, clinics and counselling rooms, and hope that the healthcare system gets fixed, hope that social determinants of health get addressed, and when in fact we need to step up and be that voice that calls for some of that change,” he added.
In October of 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was in Richmond addressing federal efforts to curtail heroin use and opioid abuse.
Murthy’s end of year campaign is calling for doctors, and other medical professionals to expand their traditional roles beyond the offices and into public life because they not only need to safeguard the health of their individual patients, but also fight to improve the environments in which their patients live.