Drug prevention advocates echo surgeon general guidance on addic - FOX Carolina 21

Drug prevention advocates echo surgeon general guidance on addiction

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The United States surgeon general took a bold stand Thursday against the addiction epidemic plaguing the nation. A new report found one in seven Americans will face addiction to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime, but only a fraction of those people actually get the help they need. 

Local drug prevention advocates applauded the surgeon general's call to treat addiction like any other disease. 

"We were really excited to see this report come out because substance abuse disorder is so prevalent," said Taylor Dockter, a prevention specialist with the Forrester Center for Behavioral Health in Spartanburg. 

Thursday the surgeon general called addiction a disease of the brain, and asked that it be treated as such - not as a moral failure. 

"What the science tells us very clearly is that addiction is in fact a chronic disease of the brain," said U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy. "And we have to treat it with the same urgency, compassion and skill as we would any other chronic illness."

There are several outreach programs in the Upstate that work to help educate children and teens about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, as well as the risks for addiction. 

"Every individual has risk factors that may predispose them to risky behaviors such as substance abuse," said Dockter. 

In years past, prevention advocates said the so-called "war on drugs" took aim at drugs and alcohol, but failed to address addiction appropriately. 

"There is nothing I can do to bring my son back, but there are things I can do to make a difference," said Greenville resident Roy Davenport, who lost his son Scott Davenport, 38, to a synthetic drug overdose in 2014. Davenport now advocates for a change in attitude about addiction, working locally with Greenville Family Partnership.

"I think we still have a long way to go," said Davenport. "I certainly think the surgeon general's report is a great first step."

In his report, the surgeon general calls for key stakeholders to push for implementation of community-based prevention programs. Many hope the report will have an effect like that of a 1964 similar report on the dangers of smoking.

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