Last week, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, sent a letter to 2.3 million American health professionals asking them to lead a national movement to “turn the tide” on the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic. After visiting communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, Dr. Murthy’s appeal to clinicians was personal:
“Everywhere I travel, I see communities devastated by opioid overdoses. I meet families too ashamed to seek treatment for addiction. And I will never forget my own patient whose opioid use disorder began with a course of morphine after a routine procedure.”
Dr. Murthy wrote that health care providers “have the unique power to end the opioid crisis.” He asked providers to commitment to this cause by pledging to:
- Educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively.
- Screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment.
- Talk about and treat addition as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.